While DreamWorks Animation may be scaling back a bit in terms of the quantity of its yearly output, the studio is still sitting on what will no doubt be a fantastic conclusion to one of its best franchises, How to Train Your Dragon. The first film brought something unique to the world of animation in that it was a movie that prioritized compassion and character over jokes and kid-friendly appeal. That’s not to say the movies aren’t funny, and last summer’s excellent follow-up How to Train Your Dragon 2 definitely brought more humor into the mix, but director Dean DeBlois has infused this series with a degree of empathy that is a welcome reprieve from some of the more cynical or disposal animated films out there.
Last night, Steve attended the Visual Effects Society Awards where Dragon 2 was up for a couple of honors. On the red carpet, he got the chance to speak with DeBlois about the success and evolution of Dragon 2 as well as his plans for the final installment of the trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon 3.
DeBlois reiterated what he told me in an earlier interview last November, saying Dragon 3 is planned as the final step in Hiccup’s coming of age. However, he also revealed that the film series will end where Cressida Cowell’s book series began:
“[Dragon 3 is] the culmination of Hiccup’s coming of age. Both he and Toothless are now chiefs of their respective tribes, and it’s a dueling story where you have both characters trying to do what’s right for their kind, and an eventual outcome where Hiccup is able to stand on his own. We’re gonna take the story to where the books begin, which is Hiccup as an adult reflecting back on a time where there were dragons, suggesting that the dragons will in some way go away. Why and could they come back and the mystery of what all that is will be saved for the actual story.”
The filmmaker told me previously that Hiccup’s mother, Valka, was initially intended to be the primary sympathetic villain of Dragon 2 before they altered the story in the midst of production, moving up the introduction of Djimon Hounsou’s Drago, a character that was meant to take center stage in Dragon 3. Speaking with Steve, DeBlois said Drago will be further fleshed out in the third film:
“You have to wait until the third film to actually see where Drago’s character goes. He’s a lot more complex than he’s presented in this second installment.”
As for the actual status of How to Train Your Dragon 3, DeBlois said he’s currently on Page 60 of writing the screenplay, and discussed the long outline process that took place before he dove into the script:
“There were a few months of pitching outlines and making sure that everybody was content with where it was headed, and now I’m deep into the script. I’m about halfway through. I was literally working on it this afternoon before coming here. I have to hand it off pretty soon.”
Watch the full interview with DeBlois and his team below, which includes their thoughts on the success of How to Train Your Dragon 2 and how the story evolved. How to Train Your Dragon 3 is slated for release on June 29, 2018.