Warning: SPOILERS for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.
Now that How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is out in theaters, is there a future for the franchise in How to Train Your Dragon 4? Over the past decade, DreamWorks' adaptations of the children's books of the same name written by Cressida Cowell have become a phenomenon. The first film made $494 million worldwide and How to Train Your Dragon 2 then took in $621 million, with both films also receiving a positive reception from critics and audiences alike
The third and final film in the How To Train Your Dragon trilogy is now playing in theaters and sending audiences on the next adventure with Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless. The Hidden World picks up a year after the events of the last film, with Hiccup growing into his leadership position as the chief of Berk. However, the future of Berk is put in question as the dragon population continues to grow and dragon hunter Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) is tasked with capturing Toothless - who is now the Alpha. But, Toothless' focus is not on finding a new home for the Vikings, rather learn more about the new Light Fury he encounters.
With How to Train Your Dragon 3 already performing incredibly well at the international box office, it appears that the new installment will go down as another hit. In an age where IP and franchises reign supreme in Hollywood, usual studio practices would indicate that the franchise will continue to live on. But will that actually be the case for How To Train Your Dragon 4?
How To Train Your Dragon 3 Was The End Of The Trilogy
Just based on the traditional structure of a trilogy, How To Train Your Dragon 3 is the final chapter of the story they've been telling. The entire How to Train Your Dragon trilogy has been directed by Dean DeBlois and he has made it clear in the past that this third installment will end the story properly. DeBlois has been talking about this as the plan for nearly five years; he previously mentioned in 2014 that he was able to talk down DreamWorks from wanting to do a How To Train Your Dragon 4. As such, by the end of this third film, Hiccup and Toothless' stories are largely finished, reaching a satisfying end.
There Is Story Room For How To Train Your Dragon 4
The ending of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is very much a happy one, even though it may not seem like it at first. Although the main plot wraps up with an emotional goodbye that sees all of the dragons leave the new Berk village to go live in the Hidden World, a jump forward in time walks back some of that finality - and leaves a chance for more stories. The story jumps a few years into the future and shows Hiccup and Astrid grown up, married, and with kids of their own. They journey to the entry point of the Hidden World and see Toothless there with the Light Fury and baby dragons of their own. The movie officially ends with more mature versions of Hiccup and Toothless being reunited, which immediately leaves the door open for more adventures in How To Train Your Dragon 4.
How To Train Your Dragon 4 Is Unlikely To Happen
As hopeful as the ending may be, How to Train Your Dragon 4 does not appear likely at this point. The last time it was discussed was in 2014, and a return to this world could be complicated. DeBlois appears to be satisfied with how his trilogy ends, and he has yet to express interest in being part of a continuation of the franchise. Even with the aforementioned time jump, the trilogy's ending is still a proper conclusion to Hiccup and Toothless' story. A fourth film could feel like an unneeded add on to their arcs and could involve an entirely different creative team. We can't totally discount the possibility of it happening at this stage, but How to Train Your Dragon 4 has yet to be announced or given a release date, so the chances of it happening are doubtful at best.
When Would How To Train Your Dragon 4 Release (If It Did Happen)?
Even if DreamWorks and DeBlois go back on their word, that doesn't mean How to Train Your Dragon 4 will happen any time soon. Animated films take a long time to develop, write and produce; there were four years between the first two Dragon movies and five between the second and third. A similar gap would be expected for How to Train Your Dragon 4, meaning a 2023 release date at the earliest (and that's if they started work on it today).
There Could Still Be More How To Train Your Dragon
No How To Train Your Dragon 4 doesn't have to mean the end of the franchise, however. From 2012 to 2018, DreamWorks' Dragons aired on Cartoon Network and later Netflix, expanding the world of films and deepening the character relationships (most of the voice cast returned). While the series is over now, it's not out of the question
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) release date: Feb 22, 2019