Man, it’s been a while since we had any news updates about a popular animated film franchise. No, not the one about a family of superheroes or the one about toy bricks. I’m talking about a series of movies where humans ride the skies on the backs of….wait for it:
This week, in one of the bigger news stories in animation to break in a while, it was learned that once again, How to Train Your Dragon 3 is delayed.
Moved from its prior launch date of May 18, 2018, How to Train Your Dragon 3 will now fly into theaters on March 1, 2019. For now, it remains the only movie slated on its new date, a week or so before the release of Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel. How to Train Your Dragon 3 joins The LEGO Movie 2 and Toy Story 4 in what might be considered a ‘holy trinity’ of hotly-anticipated animated sequels
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and I’m speaking directly to the Dragons fans who still read the website: pushed back, again? Yes, you have a much longer wait for the movie now. But get this, and once more this is something that I feel has turned me into a broken record: animated movies get delayed all the time! Rarely – if ever – does a studio set a release date for a film that’s absolutely set in stone. Depending on where the film is in the production process, animated films primarily get pushed back because they either need more time to cook or the studio needs the movie out of a very competitive spot.
In the case of How to Train Your Dragon 3, it looks like the former is happening. Common wisdom in the industry is that if a film is pushed back nearly a year (in this case, eight or nine months), then the story elements still need to be locked down completely before they move forward. Luckily, reputable reports state that writer/director Dean DeBlois is still on board, so there are no earth-shattering changes to the film’s creative team (that we know of).
What’s more, delays aren’t completely indicative of an animated film’s quality. Kung Fu Panda 3 got pushed back a bunch of times and it still gave us a satisfying concluding chapter of the current trilogy when it came out earlier this year. But, at the same time, there are also behind-the-scenes horror stories like The Good Dinosaur, in which various rewrites, a revolving door or directors, and a drastic re-cast of actors turned out a film that didn’t match Pixar’s usual standards. Unless I don’t have a very good ear for rumors in the animation industry, no such issues have cropped up regarding How to Train Your Dragon 3. Last I heard, Cressida Cowell (author of the original novels) visited DWA’s Burbank headquarters to check up on the film (and apparently she liked what she saw).
Speaking of the film itself, there’s one little thing that makes this extended wait worth it: we finally know what the movie will be about!
The log line (provided exclusively to Deadline) reads: “As Hiccup fulfills his dream of creating a peaceful dragon utopia, Toothless’ discovery of an untamed, elusive mate draws the Night Fury away. When danger mounts at home and Hiccup’s reign as village chief is tested, both dragon and rider must make impossible decisions to save their kind.”
On a surface level, it sounds like Dean is finally playing off one of the franchise’s longest-running plot threads: the possible discovery and confirmation of existing Night Furies. Despite this being the first official piece of story info for the movie, the log line is decisively vague on other key details. How much time has passed since How to Train Your Dragon 2? Will Drago Bludvist return? Is Hiccup interacting with other tribes now that he is the Chief? Are we even sure that this “untamed , elusive” mate is really a Night Fury? We probably won’t be getting those answers until we inch that much closer to 2019.
I’ll say this again, for the ones who get scared witless when they hear the word ‘delayed’: delays are (for the most part) not an indicator of declining quality. If this were the case, then most of your favorite movies from Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, and a whole host of other studios from the past six years would all turn out to be critical (and commercial) flops (yes, that includes How to Train Your Dragon 2). Coincidentally, as DreamWorks Animation spent the past six years bunny-hopping across three major studio handlers (Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Universal), the Dragons franchise has been one of its strongest and lasting assets, a fact that won’t change because DreamWorks Animation decided that DeBlois and company need more time to make the best movie possible.
I don’t know about you, but I’m fine with waiting for a great movie. Or would you rather have a mediocre movie, delivered to you faster?
What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on this development?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes