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Feature Film

Dragon Tops Box Office Again

How to Train Your Dragon

Big surprise at the box office this weekend as DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon reclaimed the number one spot in its fourth week of release with an estimated $20 million. The film continues to confound box office analysts with its strong performance and is now all but guaranteed to become the fifth-highest grossing DreamWorks feature at the US box office. Caveat: the film is in a dead heat with Kick-Ass and could possibly lose its #1 rank when final numbers are released on Monday, but regardless, the film has more than proven its staying power with audiences.

UPDATE: Final results show that How To Train Your Dragon came in second place for the weekend with $19.6 million. Kick-Ass led the field with $19.8 million.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Awesome! YEAH! Wooooo!

    That makes me feel all warm and gooey inside.

  • killskerry

    maybe this will turn a light on at dreamworks, show them that filmgoers want more of this and fewer *gag* shrek films. Probably not condsidering it still didn’t rake in Shrek numbers, but this film will have WAY more staying power in the long run. It has the feel of a timeless classic.

    I loved HTTYD so much I actually saw it in theatres multiple times because the experience in the flying scenes was so rewarding. The only other films that usually merit a repeat viewing are pixar films expecially at the prices theatres are charging.

    The sad part of this is that I just KNOW Dreamworks is writing(throwing together) a crappy sequel as I type.

  • That’s what you get when you make an awesome movie. :D

  • optimist

    “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish”.

  • A.C.

    Congratulations to DreamWorks! I really hope they make more films of this caliber, and of Kung Fu Panda’s.

    I personally wished there was more character development, and felt like the characters weren’t incredibly rounded (I mean, really? The twins had no personality, no apparent goals, they were just bickering siblings), but the movie worked very, very well. The ending also made me the happiest I’d been in a while. A subtle message about accessibility for those with disabilities, and that having a disability doesn’t mean you’re broken or lesser? In a mainstream children’s movie? I can’t wait to get this on DVD and look forward to sharing it with my yet-not-conceived children.

    The money from this film going to DreamWorks is well deserved. Good job, and PLEASE put out more great films!

  • This film totally deserves that position.

    And optimist, that’s a great quote!

  • optimist

    “The sad part of this is that I just KNOW Dreamworks is writing(throwing together) a crappy sequel as I type”

    Just like Dean and Chris wrote/threw together the crappy original film?
    Give credit where it’s due and leave it at that. The movie was made at Dreamworks by Dreamworks people.

  • Sean

    As it should!

  • Thomas Dee

    Terrific film, and the second of the two best (by far) DW features to date. Dreamworks: learn from this! There are no pop culture references in either Kung Fu Panda or HTTYD, and they’re far better for it.

    No pop music, no Hollywood in-jokes, and the voice actors are all appropriate to the projects. Learn from these pictures, please!

  • Matt Sullivan

    Well, Disney DID make a crappy tv series and direct to video sequel/series of Lilo & Stitch…but that doesn’t tarnish the memory of the first one.

    Maybe there are fans who WANT to see more adventures of Toothless and Hiccup.

  • Bob Harper

    Great news! My kids and I had a great time when we saw it. Every local McDonalds is out of the Dragon toys, much to the dissapointment of the wee ones. Great job you guys!!!

  • I actually want this one to have a sequel.

    First, I think the characters of the other kids didn’t have a big role in the first movie.

    Second, it is based on a collection of books, so that gives them something to work on.

    Third, if the sequels are also directed by Sanders and DeBlois I know they will be very good too.

    And finally, it just seems that this one could work as a series. I have more hesitations about Kung Fu Panda, which could also work as a saga, but they pretty much explained the change of the character in the first movie, so I’m not exactly sure how they should portrait him in the future or what adventures he could live.

    Shrek definitely didn’t need sequels, although a lot of people liked the second one. I didn’t love the first one to begin with, but it was the only one that had something to say. The rest has had pretty contrived stories.

  • Oh, and of course I hate all those Lilo and Stitch sequels but

    a/those were done directly to dvd, hence they didn’t think that much about them

    b/ although I enjoyed Dragon I think Lilo and Stitch is a more well-rounded film. They absolutely told everything they need about all the characters in that movie. It’s a little gem of a movie that didn’t need sequels at all, and the thing they did for the dvds with the other experiments, it’s a little deus ex machina inspired by Pokemon.

    In Dragon I didn’t feel like they explored all the characters and the world so well in the first movie, so they can still do more things with them.

  • I still want to see this movie.

    …just as long as we don’t get a truckload of annoying sequels/spinoffs in return.

  • Phil

    Very good news. This is a great film. Dreamworks best by a far. I hear the film makers were just left to get on with the film because of the tight release window. Shows the sort of film Dreamworks can make when their creatives are allowed to do there thing. Well done to all involved.

  • Rooniman

    I had a feeling this would top.

  • Erin

    I’d be psyched about a HTTYD sequel! They’d get a bigger budget next round and be able to implement some other the awesome dragon concepts hinted at in the Dragon Book in the film. Glowing venom spewing mist dragons? YES PLEASE SIR!!
    I’m also more than a little curious how other Night Furies might look and how they’d tackle variation between different characters of the same species. And more Toothless is always welcome. And while the other kids weren’t that well developed, they each had enough spark and personality going that they could easily be expanded upon (much like KFP!).
    HTTYD is the kind of story that could carry a sequel or two with ease, continuing to expand on the characters and the world they live in. KFP sequels I have less confidence in, but both are less gimmicky than the Shrek sequels audiences were subjected to over the last few years. I admit to liking Shrek 2 ok, but 3 just fell so flat. The cast was made up entirely of one-note jokes, and every new character just failed to make me care. Truely sad, the nice dynamic between Donkey and Shrek and Fiona that made me enjoy the original was disbanded for more shtick.

  • Awesome news! Everybody I know who has seen this movie has really enjoyed it.

  • Pedro Nakama
  • Rob T.

    I personally helped Dragon top the box office this time, taking my two nephews and a young friend of theirs to watch it in 3-D on Saturday night (a bit extravagant considering the $4 premium on 3-D tickets, but then I didn’t expect the friend to come along). Second-time viewing for me, first for the kids.

    No doubt the 3-D premium helped pump up the film’s gross, as does Dragon being the classiest “family film” in wide release right now. Lots of grownups like this film too, though; I didn’t see a single kid in the Thursday night audience with which I first saw Dragon about a week and a half ago.

    Don’t know if I like the idea of sequels to Dragon but I’m intrigued by the trailer for Shrek 4, being a sucker for It’s a Wonderful Life and for any story that threatens the foundation of a narrative series by asking “what if it never happened?”.

  • killskerry

    Well I never meant to turn this whole comments page into a debate on the merits of a sequal, but I’ll elaborate on what I think about a sequel if and when it comes to pass.

    For one thing Dreamworks has not made a good sequel yet (this is all my opinion so I understand if there’s disagreement). Madagascar 2 was awful…it lost any good things the first had. Shrek has four parts total 2 being tolerable and 3 being a cinematic abortion (my hopes for 4 are low). It really all comes down to this….

    1. How good is the sequel for Kung Fu Panda going to be. The original was a lovely film and it made enough money that they decided to do another. If this movie manages to be better or at least as good as the first I might have more confidence in a dragon sequel.

    2. Everyone talks about how the secondary characters were not “well rounded” or “given enough backstory” and the second movie could remedy that. To that I say… well, they were secondary characters they shouldn’t be given much time to be well rounded. The story wasn’t about them and as history shows most sequels are about introducing new characters instead of focusing on the old ones. Madagascar 2 and the Shrek movies did this and that’s what made them the jumbled messes they are. Only Pixar’s Toy Story sequals seem to understand how to introduce new characters without turning their films into a quagmire of empty side-plots.

    3. How To Train Your Dragon had a beginning and an ending. The characters grew and matured lessons were learned all around. There really isn’t much more to say. The universe is interesting but the conflict has been resolved. Unless a sequel can come up with a interesting villain or situation it will drag. The magic in the film is that it is good and complete we don’t need to see what happens next because we can imagine it based on what we’ve already seen. Sometimes the best movies can just end.

    If there really is a sequel I can only hope Dean and Chris are going to be part of it. If they aren’t together on that project I only pray that Dreamwork’s lets them work together on another film, they make a fantastic team.

  • Scarabim

    I wouldn’t object to a Dragon sequel, although I’m still not sure the box office take is big enough to encourage one. After all, Monsters vs Aliens did well but got no sequel (thank god).

    As for the Kung Fu Panda sequel, I’ll go if Tai Lung comes back and redeems himself. He’s the only character from that film I’d like to see more of.

  • Gotta admit the trailers for HTTYD fooled me, what with big-eyed Toothless looking a little too cute for my taste but I was total convert at first viewing:

    – the movie absolutely deserves EVERY bit of its success; hope it snags next year’s Best Anim Feature Oscar.

    By comparison, I had the HIDEOUS experience of watching a few seconds of ‘Shark Tale’ on TV over the weekend: ugly/creepy character designs, unimpressive animation & endless pop-culture reference ‘jokes;’ Jeffrey, if you gotta make those kind of movies please save them for direct-to-HV release….

    As for a KFP sequel, as Scarabim said, “…I’ll go if Tai Lung comes back and redeems himself. He’s the only character from that film I’d like to see more of.”

    My sentiments exactly. The first film left that possibility wide open, as Tai Lung was simply nowhere to be seen after his defeat. (Not to mention that beautiful moment at the beginning of the film’s final battle where his anger gave way to the slightest glimmer of self-doubt; definitely the foundation of a self-redemption story.)

    Uh-oh, just had a scary thought: he’ll probably wind up a recurring villain on the KFP series they’re making for Nickelodeon; oh well…

  • Killskerry, I agree with most of the things you say. Still, about the secondary characters thing I’ll put the example of Lilo and Stitch again. Characters like Jumba and Pleakley or even Cobra Bubbles seemed to have a role there. Nani was pretty developed for example, although the story was more about Lilo and Stitch.

    In Dragon I felt that only Toothless and Hiccup were perfectly used. Astrid was ok, but she could have been there a little more. The father’s friend, I forgot his name, was kind of funny but he has a very little role. The other kids were secondary, yes, but since there are a bunch of them and they have different personalities they could probably be developed a little more.

    I mean, I’m one of the few people that didn’t really mind about the Furious Five not being developed in Kung Fu Panda cause I think it wasn’t necessary for the story. The characters worked as a team. They were Po’s idols and that was all that mattered in the story.

    I don’t feel the same about Dragon’s kids. Esentially they were there cause they needed some more kids to show during the training lessons, but they all have individual quircks and hints of personalities that the filmmakers didn’t use enough to make them memorable.

    Look at any one of the Disney movies during the 90’s. Every character in Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin or The Lion King is used to their full potential. It is not only about how many screentime they get, but how they are used.

    I would really like to see more of the fat kid in Dragon in another movie, cause I didn’t have enough of him in the first one. Same thing with the other dragon species.

    On the other hand I totally agree with you about other sequels introducing too many new characters, which is usually a big mistake, by the end of Ice Age 3 they have added a zillion of main characters.

    But, as you said, they did it pretty well in Toy Story 2. In fact, this may be a subjective opinion, but to me the stars of that movie are not the new characters, neither Woody IMO. I thought Rex, Hamm and Mr. Potato were more charismatic there than they were in the first movie and they have the best scenes.

    And about point 3, the story of Dragon being resolved and all that, I agree, but that can be said about all movies, really. Most of the movies don’t really NEED a sequel, unless they make them with that concept in mind and they end in a big cliffhanger or something. A good movie normally works on its own and it doesn’t need a thousand continuations. But I still think this one has more possibilities for a sequel than most of the previous Dreamworks films, and it wouldn’t feel as forced as it could be (and has been) with other franchises (Shrek, Madagascar or Ice Age come to mind).

  • Thomas Dee

    The support character kids in HTTYD were developed just enough for my tastes, allowing the main focus to stay with Hiccup and Toothless.

    We had a twin brother and sister who were in heated competition with one another in the way siblings often fight, we had a would-be tough guy who comes to realize he’s unprepared for the battles ahead, another kid who (in the single pop culture reference in the movie, buried nicely in his character) uses D&D jargon to describe the strengths and weaknesses of the dragons they meet, and a young girl who is both tough and girlish; a rare and fresh combination of attributes in animation these days. These character traits are layered, and are revealed and evolve over the movies’ running time. I was completely satisfied.

    And Hiccup’s “two dads” were terrific too. They had layers of concern for the boy, and the father’s moment of pain after realizing what he’d done in the “You are not my son” scene was nuanced and emotional. These adults did more than just nudge the plot along. They were rich and fulfilling characters in their own right. Very believable.

    Yeah, I have no problems whatsoever with this movie. It’s a rollicking good time, and I’d recommend seeing it without the 3D, but that’s just because I hate 3D and I’d like to send it back to hell with the Bwana Devil it came from.

  • Here’s where I get my weekend box office totals:

    Dragon is rated PG. Kick-Ass is rated R.
    Dragon is in 2-D and in 3-D. Kick-Ass is only in 2-D.
    Dragon is on 760 more screens than Kick-Ass, yet Kick-Ass made $1215 more per screen. And the difference between #1 and #2 is a mere $250,000.

    Not to discredit the success of Dragon, but my guess is there was a small but significant number of youngsters who bought tickets to Dragon but went to see Kick-Ass instead.

  • optimist

    “Not to discredit the success of Dragon, but my guess is there was a small but significant number of youngsters who bought tickets to Dragon but went to see Kick-Ass instead.

    LOL-Conspiracy theories?!
    And yes, you are discrediting the success of Dragon, so just own it.

  • Thomas Dee…ok, maybe they were developed, but I still thought I didn’t watch enough of them in action, something it doesn’t happen to me with other animated movies. Maybe it’s just me or the trailer giving me fake expectations, since I saw the group of kids in the trailers and I thought they were going to have a larger role.

  • Hal

    KICK ASS had a pretty cool little animated segment – artist John Romita Jr.’s 2d artwork projected on 3d geometry to bring a 2d comic book to life in 3d space. It wasn’t as mind blowing as the KILL BILL Madhouse sequence, but still was fun to see animation used well to enhance the story and pushed an interesting style. Glad Dragon’s going strong, even though KICK ASS was a great bit of entertainment that I hope gets some Dragon style legs before IRON MAN DEUCE shuts it out.

  • Ross W

    Sequels can be good, but the film I am looking forward to the most now is The Croods. Chris Sanders is 2 for 2 as a director, any bets on how good his third film will be?

  • James E. Parten

    The film industry sometimes refers to a film as having “legs”. That means staying power. And “How To Train Your Dragon” has it, judging by the box-office figures. So what if its first weekend wasn’t particularly splashy, and was deemed a disappointment? The film has held up, and is well and truly deserving of its success.
    Sequel? All in good time. Sequels don’t have to suck–and, on rare occasions, the sequel is even better than the original.
    Oscar? The year is yet too young! We’ll have to see what comes out between now and next Christmas before we start thinking about little gold statuettes.

  • It’s official:

    1: Kick-Ass ($19,828,687)
    2: How To Train Your Dragon ($19,633,320)

  • Bill

    You are trying to make your comment sound all technical with all your data… and yet completely ignore THE fundamental factor of WHY this is a Box office phenomenon.
    How to train your Dragon came out one month ago!!!
    Kick ass came out THIS weekend!!!
    Do you really want to compare the two results at the box office? Compare the box office of Kick ass 4 weeks from now! After the opening exitement has faded, after a bunch of other movies come out, after audience’s word of mouth about it has been spread… and THEN make a comparison.
    Clash of the Titans for example came out the week AFTER dragon, and it’s now all the way down to number 5! while how to train your dragon is still at FIRST place!
    Because of one thing and one thing only. Word of mouth. the most unpredictable factor for box office estimations, and the TRUE test for a movie’s quality. People went to see HTTYD, and loved it, and tell everyone to see it too, cause it’s a wonderful movie.