DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2 was not just one of the better-received sequels of the 2014 Summer Movie Season, it remains one of the best-reviewed films of this year in general, and just crossed the $600 million mark at the worldwide box office over the 2014 Labor Day holiday frame. It's also the top-grossing animated motion picture of 2014 - having outperformed The LEGO Movie outside the U.S. - in the absence of a new Pixar release this year (we'll see how Disney's Big Hero 6 does at the box office in November, though).
Yet, as was discussed during the 2014 Summer Movie Awards edition of the SRU Podcast, Dragon 2 didn't seem to make as strong an impact on the public consciousness as certain other summer releases did. The 3D animated feature also suffered a significant drop-off at the U.S. box office, compared to its predecessor's take in 2010 ($174 million vs. $216 million), despite a slight uptick in ticket prices - along with the increase in the number of 3D screenings available - over the four years between the films.
This is all worth taking into consideration, as How to Train Your Dragon 3 has now been pushed back by a year, from a planned launch during the 2016 Summer Movie Season to the same period in 2017. Still, the fact that Dragon 3 has been given a new official release date - as opposed to being shifted to a more vague frame (see: Sony having recently pushed Amazing Spider-Man 3 to "sometime in 2018") - is a sign that DreamWorks remains confident about the property's future - and with good reason.
Dragon 3 was previously set to arrive on June 17th, 2016, which is the same date that Pixar has claimed for the Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory. It's not quite a Captain America 3/Batman V Superman situation, but it makes sense that Dragon 3 would be the one to move away first, all things considered (see: Dragon 2 performing somewhat weaker than expected). Earlier today, Warner Bros. also set Shane Black's The Nice Guys to hit theaters the same day as Dory, but it's unlikely that had much of an impact on DreamWorks' decision to scoot Dragon 3 back.
How to Train Your Dragon 3, following its move, is now scheduled to reach theaters on June 9th, 2017, which is two weeks after the currently-untitled LEGO Movie sequel opens in theaters, and one week before currently-untitled new animated movies from both Pixar and Blue Sky are slated to arrive. There will for certain be more release date announcements (and, equally likely, release date changes) for June 2017 over the next couple of years, so we'll have to wait and which - if any - of these family-friendly animated offerings wind up moving.
There was some talk about how DreamWorks executives have been entertaining the thought of a fourth How to Train Your Dragon movie down the line (not that long before Dragon 2 opened in theaters). Dragon 2 writer/director Dean DeBlois, who also co-wrote and co-directed the first How to Train Your Dragon installment, did indeed leave the door open for a third Dragon installment (which he will also make), after all, and could do the same on Dragon 3 while still providing a satisfying self-contained story.
Nonetheless, it's best to not jump to any conclusions on that front until further notice. DeBlois may have enough story for two more How to Train Your Dragon films, as the fantasy series' composer John Powell has indicated, but DreamsWorks might be a tad more hesitant than it was before, when it comes to saying yes to Dragon 4 at this point in time.
How to Train Your Dragon 3 arrives in theaters on June 9th, 2017.
Source: DreamWorks Animation