The How to Train Your Dragon franchise has grown in recent time to become one of DreamWorks Animation’s most profitable and exciting brands. What makes this distinction unique is that the reason why is because of its deft combination lovable characters, multi-layered themes and epic-scale storytelling seldom seen in animation. As such, both films have gone on to become critical and commercial successes.
Dean DeBlois, who co-directed the first film with Chris Sanders before becoming the sole director and writer of the second film, was luckily able to find time to speak with Collider’s Adam Chitwood in anticipation of the Blu-Ray release of How to Train Your Dragon 2!
One of the things they talked about was obviously the expansion of the franchise. A while ago, DreamWorks CEO Jeffery Katzenberg brought up the possibility of a fourth How to Train Your Dragon film, on the basis that the story for How to Train Your Dragon 3 would be too large to contain in just one film. It was even widely rumored that the third film may be split into two parts, although since it’s not based very closely on the books, it would more likely would have been just How to Train Your Dragon 4 than one latter half of a two-part film.
But according to the interview, Dean was able to talk Jeffery down and convince him that the story can be done in three films. He did however mention the possibility of spinoffs:
“I think I’ve talked [Jeffrey Katzenberg] down from that (laughs). There may be spinoffs to come, but my involvement and my dedication to completing a story that has a reason for being and a strong sense of integrity and three chapters I think is in place and intact. Everybody seems to be in agreement that we’re moving in the right direction.”
Also, just in case you were wondering, Dean and company are already hard at work on How to Train Your Dragon 3. Here he updates on the film’s script progress:
“Just this past Thursday I presented the outline for the film and I’m gonna take a two week break, but after that I’ll be working on the screenplay and hopefully turning the first draft in by the end of the year. So all is going well. It continues to be the third act of this trilogy and we get to see Hiccup’s coming of age come to a completion.”
While careful not to divulge too many details at this point in time, he did say the the film will delve more into the inner-workings of the dragons themselves, even citing a more Toothless-centric story arc for the film:
“I’m also playing with the idea of what happened to the dragons and why they are no more, as suggested by Cressida Cowell’s books. So the whole mystery of where did they go? Did they come back? What transpired? I think it’s all compelling stuff and it’s definitely a story that’s gonna have a lot more Toothless emphasis in it. We continue to get more insight into the dragon world and shed light on their intelligence and all the aspects that we’ve been slowly cooking over the last two films.”
A while back we heard the news that DreamWorks Animation had shifted the release date from July 16, 2016 to July 9, 2017. As you would expect, the internet was lit aflame with various theories as to why the date was shifted. Luckily, Dean was able to cut through the nonsense and give us a perfectly reasonable explanation. Quite simply, two years (almost less) really wasn’t a long enough turnaround period for them to produce a satisfactory end product, especially concerning this franchise:
“It’s just that these movies take three years. I think it was a little ambitious to say 2016 (laughs). As is normally the case, they kind of throw darts out into the future and wherever they land they call that a release date until we start talking about it in practical terms, and then it’s like, ‘Uh yeah that’s not enough time.’(laughs). So knowing that they take three years from this moment, from outlining and writing the screenplay through to the final lighting of it, it’s just a process of building models and doing tests and animating, storyboarding, the whole thing just adds up to about three years.”
When discussing Drago, Dean hinted towards building a more developed force of antagonism in the next film (which probably means more exploration into Drago’s backstory):
“As I go forward I’m still working on kind of the antagonist story of the whole thing, but there are layers and textures to go to that I think will make for a much more compelling force of antagonism in this third one.”
It makes since, as (SPOILERS) Drago and his army are still out there, and they will probably be back with other allies, since not everyone in the world will take too kindly to the appearance of a viking on the back of a dragon (this is also an element that we may see in future seasons of the TV show).
As a final note, I for one am excited for the direction the franchise is going. While the three films will be three films, there are still plenty of opportunities in the three years between now and How to Train Your Dragon 3 to expand and further flesh out the world (there have been rumblings a while back of YA novels focusing on different characters).
Stay tuned on Collider for the full interview when we come closer to How to Train Your Dragon 2‘s DVD/Blu-Ray launch.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 will bow on Digital HD platforms on October 21 before landing on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 11. How to Train Your Dragon 3 will arrive in theaters on July 9, 2017.