Viral Panda Video to Become Feature Mockumentary

The wheezy, sneeze-y baby panda is making its way to the silver screen.

Can 16 seconds of cuteness be turned into an hour and a half of … pandas?

That’s what some filmmakers are banking on.

Lesly Hammond and Jenny Walsh, who make Australian wildlife documentaries, are switching gears. The production has a $1.3 million budget, The Hollywood Reporter says, and will start filming in China this October.

Hammond and Walsh were the ones who shot the short clip of the now word-renounced baby panda, whose resonant sneeze rang out throughout the compound and deeply startled its mother.

Millions worldwide have simpered over the clip, and TV shows like “South Park” and “30 Rock” have parodied it (illegally, according to THR).

The two plan to take a leaf out of “Forrest Gump’s” book and tie in the baby panda to critical historical events. “You know the famous photo of Nixon sitting with mao? Using visual effects, we’ll replace the woman interpreter sitting between them with a panda,” Hammond told THR.

While this sounds more like a Tumblr meme (think: Sad Keanu) than a feature-length film, the plot also involves a zoologist (not yet cast) who travels to China to save the baby panda.

“This is the first feature film to come out of a viral video clip,” Hammond said.

Let’s hope it fares better than TV-commercials-turned-TV-shows (“Cavemen,” anyone?)

 Selected ReadingTHR, NYDN

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