DreamWorks, News

WONDERCON EXCLUSIVE: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’ Splitting into Two Films for 2019/2020!

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Well, this is a grand surprise!

WonderCon 2017 officially kicked off this weekend, bringing with it a pre-SDCC flood of news from the world of geek/nerd entertainment. But it’s rare that these types of conventions would serve as the launch pad for any big animation stories. But it happened, and it was kinda glorious.

In the 15 minutes leading into DreamWorks Animation’s panel on the upcoming third season of Voltron: Legendary Defender, a ‘secret panel’ of sorts took place. Dean DeBlois, writer/director and current architect of the How to Train Your Dragon franchise, arrived on stage alongside Jay Baruchel (the voice of Hiccup) and made (for Dragons fans) an earth-shattering announcement: How to Train Your Dragon 3, once considered the third an final installment of the trilogy, will now be split into two separate films!

In an unprecedented move by an animation studio, DreamWorks Animation will be going the Harry Potter route in concluding the epic saga that began with the first film in 2010.

As told to a largely enthusiastic crowd at WonderCon, Dean also confirmed the release dates for the films. How to Train Your Dragon 3 – Part 1 will occupy the March 1, 2019 launch date (once set for the film as a whole) while How to Train Your Dragon 3 – Part 2 will land in theaters on March 20, 2020.

According to Dean, the decision to split the two films – an idea that originated back in 2014 with the release of How to Train Your Dragon 2 – wasn’t a decision made by their new handlers at Universal Pictures (of which DreamWorks Animation now functions as one of its subsidiaries), but rather was a decision made between him, Bonnie Arnold (the current co-president of DWA) and Chris DeFaria, now the president of DWA’s Feature Animation Group. Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Pictures, views Dragons as an important franchise for DWA and Universal, and thus signed off on the idea.

To be honest, if I didn’t think that the story was big enough for two films, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Dean said to the crowd. “I personally wanted to get the record straight on why we are doing this now. It was just a realization that not only did we want to close the story of Hiccup and Toothless on a high note, but we also wanted to give all of our characters and story threads room to breathe. A complete story, told in two parts, allows us to do just that.

Baruchel also chimed in, confirming that he had recently begun recording for Part 2: “I know it’s a crazy idea, but for this movie it just makes too much sense!” Baruchel told the crowd. “What Dean has planned for all you guys is so badass, and it’s even more badass that these movies are being treated like big live-action blockbusters. It’s the coolest thing ever and it’s almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me as a actor to be a part of something like this.

Plot-wise, Part 1 will function as a “political thriller of sorts,” with Hiccup and Toothless caught in the center of a worldwide struggle to unite humans and dragons as Drago’s influence continues to grow. Part 2 is, as Baruchel puts it, is “basically a war film,” with Hiccup and Toothless forced to make impossible decisions in order to save their respective species. As the films don’t follow the original books, Dean confirmed that Part 1 was designed as to have a natural end point that Part 2 can easily pick up from.

Not much else was spilled from either Dean or Baruchel, other than that the ongoing mystery behind the Night Furies will be resolved (Toothless’ love interest plays a role) and, yes, not everybody will live until the end. “It’s almost an understatement to say that both films will get pretty heavy at some points,” said Baruchel. “No spoilers here, but there are some characters that you guys know by name that will definitely bite the dust.” 

Following off that, Dean ended the surprise panel with this statement: “What we are emphasizing here is that we’ll be going quite a bit darker than even the second film. That’s not to say that the humor and wonder and warmth of these movies will go away, but there’s a more concerted effort among all of us to deliver a closing chapter worthy of the boldness, bravery, and unconventional spirit of this franchise. I can’t thank Arnold, DeFaria, and Langley enough for the opportunity to tell the story we want to tell and I can’t thank the fans enough for supporting this incredible world we’ve built over the past decade.”

See you in 2019 and 2020!” added Baruchel.

(Original source here.)

What do you think? Are there other animated franchises that deserve this treatment? 

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Brandon Smith

Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.
  • haha so this one’s the April fools joke, so is the Gaston prequel real than???

    • brandon

      I don’t know. Ask Pablo 😉

      • Manuel Orozco

        On second thought, it is an April Fool’s prank

    • Manuel Orozco

      I hope not

  • Manuel Orozco

    I’m not 100% surprised of the third HTTYD being split into two parts! This better not be an April Fool’s joke. But in case it is not, I would like to say on everyone’s behalf it’s been one heck of an adventure for all of us to go on with Hiccup and friends this past decade. It’s going to be bittersweet that I’m already playing Whitney Houston’s version of I Will Always Love You. But what’s going to happen to Trolls 2 since it’s supposed to open in April of 2020?

    • brandon

      Have you clicked the link?

      • Manuel Orozco

        Yes it’s a joke

  • brandon

    Right now, I’m looking at a glaring error in my article. I would go in and edit it into non-existence, but my server is down.

    So lucky you. There’s a mistake in the article that should tip you off to its…authenticity 😉

  • TripleStrykeLover

    For a tiny bit, I thought this was real, but deep down I knew this was another How to Train Your Dragon 3 April Fool’s prank like last year. Clever one, Brandon 😉

  • Yellow

    Dang it, I forgot what day it is!

  • Even if it was a prank, I honestly wouldn’t mind if they did do this!! I love these films that much that a 2 parter would be kinda cool, maybe uneeded but I wouldn’t mind completely! Really good prank, fell for it more than the Gaston article!!

  • I thought this was real for a good four hours and wondered why no one had posted it on my other movie websites lmao

  • HiccStridForever92

    It is obvious that this is a April Fool’s Joke being that it is April Fool’s day. If I had not found this through the HTTYD discussion page, and knew from the start that it was fake, I would have done some research on this and obviously found no article on it, and that would have confirmed for me that it is fake. On another note related to the HTTYD, and the TV series, I just want to say I miss the Dragons TV articles that you did, and have done up through the first episode of season 2 of Race to the Edge. I would love for that to be resumed because I would love to see what you have to say about each episode, since the articles consisted of more than just a summary of the episode. But still, this was a good prank, especially since you can take advantage of a film that has been delayed several times, in this way, and get some people to believe if they do not realize what day today is.

  • Jeremiah

    All. Freaking. For it. This is- phooey.

  • Paris castillo

    U know I wish they would stop April Fools us n tell us what the third movie will be

  • Trev

    April Fools! You little sausage!

  • Hiccup’s Windwalker

    AHHHHH *FANGIRLING*

    • brandon

      Have you checked the link yet?

  • I hate y’all, I really thought it was real and I was ready to prepare a calender for it………

    • Jeremiah

      I was so excited. :/

  • You fully got me convinced until I saw what the source was. Very good prank Brandon.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I was convinced too

  • ValkarieandherInventorChief

    Terrible, you my good sir are terrible. But then again I pranked people in my fandom with a fake honest trailer for HTTYD2. lol
    I would have been SO down for a part 1 and part 2. Heck I’d be down for HTTYD3 being PG13 to up the intensity of battles. But whiney parents would complain Dreamwork’s ears off. >.<
    Good prank BTW.
    Still want my HTTYD3 rated R (the last year April Fools).. ooh yes so down for that too.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I don’t think HTTYD will be PG-13 but we shall see

  • Comet the Night Fury

    GOD DANG IT. I thought it was real until I scrolled through the comments XD

  • Jellinseup

    I WAS SO EXITED OMG APRIL FOOLS YOU GUYS JUST BROKE MY HEART