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How Jack Black Ended Up Covering Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” in ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’

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Eight years after the release of the third film in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, Jack Black is back for a fourth go-around — and this time, he is bringing his musical side to the movie.

Last week, Black posted a cover of Britney Spears‘ hit song “Baby One More Time” on his social media, showcasing him signing and dancing alongside Kyle Gass, whom he performs with in their band, Tenacious D. The caption simply read, “Tenacious B!” but included a panda emoji, suggesting the song would be a part of Kung Fu Panda 4.

At the Los Angeles premiere of the film on Sunday, Black told reporters that the cover is featured in the film’s end credits, and that came about when director Mike Mitchell “said, ‘Hey, we would love to have a Tenacious D song for the end credits’ and I was like, ‘Really? Can we do Britney Spears?’” Black recalled.

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“He said yeah, and he said, ‘Let’s do ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ for the kung fu aspect of that song,’ and we were like, ‘Hell yeah,’” the star continued. “So we got in the recording studio and we did it and we’re really proud of the track. We shot a little impromptu music video in Kyle’s hotel room and we put it on the internet and it’s gone crazy viral. It’s exciting.” Black and Gass also shot some footage dancing to the song on the red carpet for a future video.

The fourth film again follows the adventures of Black’s martial arts panda character, Po, and features an all-star voice cast including Viola Davis, Awkwafina, Dustin Hoffman, James Hong, Bryan Cranston and Ke Huy Quan.

“I think it’s the funniest of the four, and it’s action-packed,” Black said of the movie. “Our new cast members are insanely talented — Awkwafina is amazing, Viola Davis as the villain is, as usual, incredible, and my two dads, James Hong and Bryan Cranston. Everyone just kills it and it’s so fun to be back, because the last Kung Fu Panda was 2016. How long has that been, eight years? So it’s really exciting to be back on a horsey blowing people’s minds again; I can’t wait for everyone to see it.”

Writer and co-producer Jonathan Aibel, who has worked on all four films, joked of the cast, “We only like to write for Oscar winners, or Oscar nominees if it comes to it” and explained that after the long break after the third film, it was uncertain if the franchise would continue.

“We always think we’re done with it. There’s always the back of your mind where you think, ‘Could there be more?’ That would be wonderful, but you can’t end a movie expecting the audience to have that [desire], you’ve got give them something great,” Aibel added, noted that the animated projects are “exhausting and you think, ‘We can’t do this again, we’re done, we’ve told this story,’ and then an idea comes to you and you think, ‘Well what if this happened?’ And here we are again.”

Kung Fu Panda 4 hits theaters on Friday.

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