Writers/directors Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders follows their work on the well-received 2002 Disney animated film Lilo & Stitch with How to Train Your Dragon, a computer-animated film loosely based on the Dragon book series by Cressida Cowell and released by DreamWorks Animation in 2010. DeBlois and Sander's fantasy adventure/coming of age story wound up becoming another critical/commercial hit for the pair - in the process, providing DreamWorks with a lucrative new intellectual property that has since been continued through a sequel (How to Train Your Dragon 2), a TV series (DreamWorks Dragons), video games (School of Dragons), and more.
How to Train Your Dragon 3 has been planned for a while now too; in fact, at one point the third Dragon film was scheduled to face off against Disney/Pixar's sequel Finding Dory during its opening weekend. However, plans for a two-year turnaround between How to Train Your Dragon movies proved too ambitious and the third Dragon installment - which, similar to How to Train Your Dragon 2, DeBlois is writing and directing solo while Sanders keeps busy working on DreamWorks' The Croods franchise - was pushed back from 2016 to 2017.
How to Train Your Dragon 3 was thereafter delayed even further until 2018, when DreamWorks Animation decided to change its business strategy and focus on releasing two new movies every year (rather than three), following the box office disappointments of the studio's Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Rise of the Guardians. Fortunately, as a change of pace, DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox's latest release date change for How to Train Your Dragon 3 sees the film move closer rather than further away, from a June 29th, 2018 theatrical release to May 18th, 2018.
That May 2018 release date was vacated this past week by Warner Bros. Animation's The LEGO Movie Sequel, which has since shifted to 2019 instead. Moreover, How to Train Your Dragon 3's new release date means that the film will hit theaters nearly a month before Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 4 arrives on the scene - rather than two weeks after Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the Toy Story gang return to the big screen, as it would have before. How to Train Your Dragon 3 stands to benefit at the box office as a result, given the direct overlap (in terms of the target demographics) between it and Disney/Pixar's own family-friendly animated franchise installment that year.
The current plan is for How to Train Your Dragon 3 to wrap up the story of young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless, with DeBlois having indicated the third Dragon film will conclude the pair's story on a poignant note - one that also brings the How to Train Your Dragon movie franchise closer to the over-arching narrative trajectory of Cowell's source novels, at the same time. Both of the previous Dragon movies were praised for blending high fantasy adventure with humanist themes and emotionally-challenging subject matter, so it's encoring to hear that How to Train Your Dragon 3 isn't changing course in that respect. For that reason, the third Dragon installment has the potential to conclude the series on a high note, perhaps even reaching the artistic heights of, say, Disney/Pixar's original Toy Story movie trilogy in the process.
How To Train Your Dragon 3 opens in U.S. theaters on May 18th, 2018.
Source: 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Animation [via Box Office Mojo]