The meek but capable Viking Hiccup (voice of Jay Baruchel) and his loyal companion, the Night Fury dragon Toothless, captivated audiences last year in DreamWorks' 3D animated feature, How To Train Your Dragon, which currently has both a sequel and spin-off TV show in development.
HTTYD co-director Dean DeBlois will helm How To Train Your Dragon 2 on his own and has dropped a few tidbits about how the followup will differ in terms of scope and setting, and where it fits into the overarching narrative concerning Hiccup's journey towards manhood.
THR caught up with DeBlois at last Saturday's Annie Awards, where How To Train Your Dragon ended up snagging ten trophies, including one for Best Animated Feature. The writer/director revealed that he is in the midst of penning a second draft of the sequel's script (having already received studio feedback on his initial draft) and is structuring How To Train Your Dragon 2 as the second act in a trilogy that chronicle's Hiccup's journey towards becoming the leader of the Viking clan.
Here's what DeBlois had to offer, with regards to the animated fantasy pic's followup:
"It's going to be quite epic. We are treating 'How To Train Your Dragon' as the first act in a much larger story. As we head into ['How To Train Your Dragon 2'], the world expands. Everything is much bigger with still the heartfelt qualities that made the first one resonate so much with audiences. There are no longer restrictions to this tiny island in the North Sea. They have the entire Northern hemisphere within their grasp.
"The only way of tracing the story is to draw on elements that were in the first movie and set up elements for a third movie, so it doesn't feel like a random adventure with the same five or six characters. This truly is a second chapter in a larger story."
DeBlois sounds like he's on the right track with How To Train Your Dragon 2, both in terms of his plan to focus on Hiccup's continuing trek towards adulthood and with the indication that supporting players like the young warrior gal/Hiccup's girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) or even comic relief like Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and the twins Ruffnut & Tuffnut (Kristen Wiig and T.J. Miller, respectively) won't just be hanger-ons in the next film. Many a sequel has been afflicted with that illness - i.e. the inclusion of supporting characters from the original for no real purpose (see the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and it's good that DeBlois is at least consciously trying to avoid that problem.
There are numerous directions that the HTTYD followup could go in, with respect to the relationship between the Vikings and dragons, Hiccup's being given greater responsibility, etc., etc. So long as the sequel doesn't merely play out like a rehash of the first film (which itself had a well-told, but admittedly rather conventional plot), there's good reason to look forward to the further adventures of Hiccup and his pet dragon.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 is expected to reach theaters in the second half of 2013.