‘Panda’ sequel stirs ‘Fu’ fighters

Studios squabble over press release details

Most press releases reveal little. But read between the lines and many juicy details can be gleaned.

Case in point: DreamWorks Animation sent out a three-page missive last week heralding plans for a “Kung Fu Panda” sequel to be released in 2011. Omitted from the Oct. 1 statement was a single mention of Paramount Pictures, which is contracted to release all DWA films through 2012.

When asked to clarify if Par will distribute the pic, a DWA spokesman said, “Of course. We’re thrilled with our relationship with Paramount.”

And indeed both companies should be thrilled: Par distribbed “Kung Fu Panda,” which took in the best-ever non-sequel box office haul for DWA.

Still, the omission seems less than accidental given that Paramount and DreamWorks proper are currently engaged in a not-so-amicable divorce. Perhaps DWA’s press release was a subtle reminder that it, too, can opt out of its Par deal — in early 2011 — even if it comes with a pricetag as high as $150 million.

Par’s marketing department shot back on Oct. 2 with its own news flash: “Paramount Pictures is proud to announce the ‘Kung Fu Panda Sequel’ from DreamWorks Animation for release on June 3, 2011. Please update your publications to reflect this addition to our 2011 schedule.”

As for the chance that Par’s exclusion from the DreamWorks Animation release was an oversight, even the DWA spokesman admitted the release had been carefully worded. When asked why the “Panda 2” news was released at 4 p.m. — late in the day for non-breaking news — the staffer said: “It had to be vetted by a lot of parties.”

Apparently, though, Paramount wasn’t one of them.