5 Ways to Prep - How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

By George Rose

February 19, 2019

This is how I feel about my cat.

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The 2019 box office woes potentially end this weekend with How to Train Your Dragon 3 but not by much. Not all is lost, though, as we are only two weeks away from salvation. Next weekend (March 1) should be the last completely embarrassing weekend of 2019 and then we get back on track with Captain Marvel. For now, we are being given the long-overdue ending to one of the great modern animation trilogies. Reviews have been out for weeks and out of 49 critics it has a 99% positive rating. That’s about as good as it gets, though even LEGO Movie 2 started out over 90% early on before settling with 85% after release. But we aren’t talking about the LEGO shark jumpers, no, we’re talking about Dreamworks Animation’s only trilogy to compare in quality to Pixar. Unfortunately, it may be a case of too little, too late.

LEGO 2 waited five years and released two spin-offs in-between, only to lose over half its audience from the original. Dragon 2 was also five years ago but there have been no spin-offs in that time to dilute interest, there has been a cartoon TV series. The two series seem so similar in some ways and are obviously very different in others. Either way, it’s all up in the air this weekend and the outcome is anyone’s guess. Even a $100+ million debut and $300+ million total won’t be able to save 2019, so there’s no point in trying to make lemonade from these moldy lemons. January and February 2019 will go down as months so devastating that it will have an impact on how the industry operates going forward. The exciting part is that we get to watch and see how Hollywood evolves.

Looking ahead, even Disney only has one guaranteed good year left. Aladdin and Lion King are it’s two biggest adaptations left; Avengers 4 and Star Wars 9 are the endings to their two biggest cinematic universes;Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 are among their biggest animated sequels; and Captain Marvel is the last Disney/Marvel movie set in stone pre-Fox merger. This is it, 2019 is the end of Hollywood as we know it and everything changes in 2020. For now, all we can do is wait to see how Dragon 3 performs but it doesn’t really matter. Why beat a dead horse when you can ride high on a dragon, am I right? I’m still a 3D junkie that loves big screen viewing and soaring through the clouds on a Night Fury seems like it deserves the cinematic experience. Throw in a reclining chair and a bucket of popcorn, and you have yourself a great way to spend two hours on a cold day. So hop on your dragon and buckle your harness, friends, as we find 5 Ways to Prep for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.

#1) THE HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON SERIES

If you’re reading this article, I imagine you’re familiar with this film series so there’s no point in recapping it. There’s also no series out there that’s similar in story or relevant to help you better enjoy Dragon 3. No, instead we are going to spend our time talking about my favorite thing… THE NUMBERS!!! The Dragon movies are made by the once relevant DreamWorks Animation, who has been been replaced recently by Illumination as Pixar’s only rival in terms of potential earnings. Despite their step back from the top of the charts, they do remain relevant for one key component: they are the animation studio with the most trilogies. But before we get to that, we need to know where the Dragon series has been to know where it could go.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010): 98% positive reviews, $44 million debut, $218 million domestic, $495 million worldwide
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014): 92% positive reviews, $49 million debut (+11%), $177 million domestic (-19%), $622 million worldwide (+26%)
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD (2019): numbers TBD with early reviews at 99% positive

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: Even a great movie can’t build on the domestic audience if the wait between entries exceeds three years. If it wasn’t for the international viewership boom over the last decade its worldwide total may have also fallen.

#2) DREAMWORKS TRILOGIES - SHREK, MADAGASCAR AND KUNG FU PANDA

SHREK (2001): 88% positive reviews, $42 million debut, $268 million domestic, $484 million worldwide
SHREK 2 (2004): 89% positive reviews, $108 million debut (+157%), $441 million domestic (+65%), $920 million worldwide (+90%)
SHREK THE THIRD (2007): 40% positive reviews, $122 million debut (+13%), $323 million domestic (-27%), $799 million worldwide (-13%)

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM SHREK: This series played out less like a traditional animation trilogy and more like the normal mega pop culture series of the early 2000’s like Transformers, Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean. Still, it remains the crown jewel for Dreamworks.

MADAGASCAR (2005): 55% positive reviews, $47 million debut, $194 million domestic, $533 million worldwide
MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA (2008): 63% positive reviews, $63 million debut (+34%), $180 million domestic (-7%), $604 million worldwide (+13%)
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED (2012): 79% positive reviews, $60 million debut (-5%), $216 million domestic (+20%), $747 million worldwide (+24%)

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM MADAGASCAR: Madagascar was close to playing out similarly to Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, where diminishing returns take charge. Instead, the last entry benefited from the best reviews and 3D boom of that time to end on top.

KUNG FU PANDA (2008): 87% positive reviews, $60 million debut, $215 million domestic, $632 million worldwide
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2011): 81% positive reviews, $48 million debut (-20%), $165 million domestic (-23%), $666 million worldwide (+5%)
KUNG FU PANDA 3 (2016): 86% positive reviews, $41 million debut (-15%), $144 million domestic (-13%), $521 million worldwide (-22%)

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM KUNG FU PANDA: Again, what could have been an increase in profit each time around if a shorter gap was placed between films led to the standard dismissing returns that set in by waiting too long. This may also be the best model we have for Dragon 3.




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#3) PIXAR’S TRILOGIES - TOY STORY AND CARS

TOY STORY (1995): 100% positive reviews, $29 million debut, $192 million domestic, $374 million worldwide
TOY STORY 2 (1999): 100% positive reviews, $57 million debut (+97%), $246 million domestic (+28%), $497 million worldwide (+33%)
TOY STORY 3 (2010): 98% positive reviews, $110 million debut (+93%), $415 million domestic (+69%), $1.07 billion worldwide (+115%)

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM TOY STORY: Pixar’s stellar track record helped it’s first sequel to blow up big, while a ten-year wait let nostalgia kick in to carry the third entry to monumental heights. These are gains only the most legendary of trilogies can brag about possessing.

CARS (2006): 74% positive reviews, $60 million debut, $244 million domestic, $462 million worldwide
CARS 2 (2011): 38% positive reviews, $66 million debut (+10%), $191 million domestic (-22%), $562 million worldwide (+22%)
CARS 3 (2017): 69% positive reviews, $54 million debut (-18%), $153 million domestic (-20%), $384 million worldwide (-32%)

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM CARS: Pixar’s worst franchise can be considered similar to the best that Dreamworks has offered us and, as such, the series declines compare to those of Kung Fu Panda. These number may also prove helpful in predicting the outcome of Dragon 3.

#4) ILLUMINATION’S TRILOGY - DESPICABLE ME

DESPICABLE ME (2010): 81% positive reviews, $56 million debut, $252 million domestic, $543 million worldwide
DESPICABLE ME 2 (2013): 74% positive reviews, $84 million debut (+50%), $368 million domestic (+46%), $971 million worldwide (+79%)
DESPICABLE ME 3 (2017): 59% positive reviews, $72 million debut (-14%), $265 million domestic (-28%), $1.03 billion worldwide (+6%)

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM DESPICABLE ME: Had there not been a Minions spin-off between entries 2 and 3, we may have seen an upswing more in lines with the Toy Story films. As it is, declining quality and franchise fatigue made this more comparable to the Shrek series.

#5) WARNER BROS ANIMATION TRILOGY - THE LEGO MOVIES

THE LEGO MOVIE (2014): 95% positive reviews, $69 million debut, $258 million domestic, $469 million worldwide
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017): 90% positive reviews, $53 million debut (-23%), $176 million domestic (-32%), $312 million worldwide (-33%)
THE LEGO MOVIE 2 (2019): 85% positive reviews, $34 million debut (-36%), domestic/worldwide totals TBD

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THE LEGO MOVIE: Like the Despicable franchise before it, we’ve learned that even a spin-off in a series can burn out an audience. Waiting too long between official sequels with the excuse of a spin-off hurts brands more than it helps. With that in mind, if LEGO Batman was counted as the first sequel and LEGO 2 really acts as LEGO 3, we have a standard animated franchise with diminishing returns that Dragon 3 could expect.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS!!! Ok, so of all the trilogies before it, only two played out like what we’re expecting for How to Train Your Dragon 3. LEGO 2 isn’t technically the third entry and it’s still making money in theaters, so those numbers can’t really be used. That leaves us with Kung Fu Panda and Cars as the only trilogies where both entry 2 and 3 went on the decline domestically. Let’s compare the sequels:

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014): 92% positive reviews, $49 million debut (+11%), $177 million domestic (-19%), $622 million worldwide (+26%)
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (2011): 81% positive reviews, $48 million debut (-20%), $165 million domestic (-23%), $666 million worldwide (+5%)
CARS 2 (2011): 38% positive reviews, $66 million debut (+10%), $191 million domestic (-22%), $562 million worldwide (+22%)

From a review standpoint, Dragon is more like Panda and less like Cars. From a literal comparison of percentage changes, Dragon is almost exactly like Cars. With that being said, here’s how the the numbers of each effect Dragon 3 since it could play out either way:

IF DRAGON 3 IS LIKE PANDA 3: $42 million debut (-15%), $154 million domestic (-13%), $485 million worldwide (-22%)
IF DRAGON 3 IS LIKE CARS 3: $40 million debut (-18%), $142 million domestic (-20%), $423 million worldwide (-32%)

And there you have it, folks. We should expect just above a $40 million debut, about $150 million domestic, and around $450 million worldwide. Should it act like the makeshift LEGO trilogy, as would be signaled by a $31 million debut (-36%), then maybe the Hollywood sky really is falling. Should it go the surprise way of Madagascar and end the trilogy back above $200 million, that would be amazing… but it still wont save the 2019 box office. I don’t know, I’m just a simple movie fan that enjoys big screen experiences and playing with numbers. Anything is possible and, really, isn’t that why we love reading about box office statistics? Anomalies are the most fun and I can’t wait to see what Dragon 3’s future holds.


     


 
 

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