DreamWorks Animation has opted to delay the How to Train Your Dragon 3 release date by a full year. Originally slated to open in theaters on June 17, 2016, the studio announced today that the third How to Train Your Dragon film is being delayed to June 9, 2017. That moves it away from squaring off directly against Pixar’s Finding Dory on the 2016 weekend, but its new release date is two weeks after The LEGO Movie 2 and a week before an untitled Pixar film. Hit the jump for more on this How to Train Your Dragon 3 release date change.
The new release date news comes courtesy of Dark Horizons, who source DreamWorks Animation with the announcement. While How to Train Your Dragon 2 opened earlier this year to swell reviews, its box office performance was a bit disappointing. It lost its opening weekend to the R-rated 22 Jump Street and ended up grossing over $40 million less than its predecessor at the domestic box office. Worldwide, however, Dragon 2 is nearing the $600 million mark, which is $100 million higher than the $494 million worldwide total of How to Train Your Dragon.
Overall the franchise is in fine shape, but it may be that DreamWorks Animation is slightly retooling its plans for How to Train Your Dragon 3 after the domestic performance of the sequel. I just hope that doesn’t mean changes behind the scenes, as writer/director Dean DeBlois has crafted the first two entries of this series with a degree of compassion and heart that is rare in the world of filmmaking.
DeBlois always envisioned the franchise as a trilogy, but DreamWorks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg was apparently looking to make How to Train Your Dragon 4 as recent as this past May. A fourth film has yet to be officially announced by DreamWorks Animation, but the desire is there. The primary focus now, though, is on making How to Train Your Dragon 3 the best film it can be. I loved How to Train Your Dragon 2 nearly as much as the first movie, so my hopes are high for Dragon 3.