The shockwaves of Universal's acquisition of Dreamworks continue to be felt, following the news that The Croods 2 has been abandoned, another high-profile sequel has run into trouble.
The third entry in Dreamworks' How To Train Your Dragon franchise won't be swooping into cinemas summer 2018 as planned. The sequel will now arrive sometime in March 2019, a whole two years on from its original Spring 2017 launch that was announced early last year.
The How To Train Your Dragon films have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide and proved to be a successful commodity for Dreamworks. The animated studio's new owners (Universal) are keen to keep the franchise going beyond the next sequel along with reviving Shrek for a wave of new follow-ups and spin-offs.
A drastic release date change like this will always raise a few concerns amongst the fans, but it could just be a case that the filmmakers need more time to get everything just right. While I've not truly enjoyed a Dreamworks animated film since the first Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon 2 was that rare sequel that surpassed its predecessor. Not only did the 2014 sequel gross more money than the first film, it's a glowing example of how to make a satisfying sequel.
Early last year, How To Train Your Dragon writer/director Dean DeBlois offered a detailed update on the plot for the third instalment.
“[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.”
By the time How To Train Your Dragon 3 arrives in cinemas, it would have been five years since we last saw Toothless and Hiccup on the big screen. Could such a long gap have an adverse effect on the potential box office? We'll have to wait until March 2019 to find out.