Just a little over two years ago, Dreamworks Animation continued its How To Train Your Dragon franchise with a stellar sequel, and a third installment within a two year time frame was soon promised. However, as bullish as the Hollywood machine can sometimes be, expectations don't always become reality. We've seen it happen quite a bit with How To Train Your Dragon 3, as it was pushed to 2017, then into 2018 and has now been shuffled once more to March 1, 2019.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the bad news as Dreamworks Animation officially announced the shift today. The potential competition for How To Train Your Dragon 3 comes from both Captain Marvel and Godzilla 2, both of which are scheduled for March 2019 debuts themselves. This isn't the only shift that the animated franchise will be making as well, seeing as How To Train Your Dragon was released under Dreamworks Animation's partnership with Paramount Pictures, and its sequel was a product of the Dreamworks Animation / 20th Century Fox partnership. How To Train Your Dragon 3 will be produced under the auspices of Dreamworks Animation's new corporate home, Universal, which may be a backdoor reason as to why the film hasn't already gone into production.
It's no secret that Dreamworks Animation has had a lot of financial woes over the past couple of years. This has presumably caused delays in the past, as we've seen films such as Monkeys of Mumbai, B.O.O.: Bureau of Otherworldly Operatives and Me and My Shadow suffer setback after setback, which has left all three of those films in limbo/assumed cancelled at this point. Even their recent hit, Trolls, was pushed from its 2015 slot into this year's fall release schedule. With the need for operating capital, as well as a bona fide hit to keep them in the game, certain projects are going to take precedent. Though in the case of How To Train Your Dragon 3, it's probably a wise move to shuffle the film to a 2019 release date.
With How To Train Your Dragon being one of Dreamworks' golden franchises, it's not a bad idea to save the film for a later release date, in order to make sure the film is a fitting end to the trilogy. Though there was a fourth film originally being thrown about, How To Train Your Dragon 3 has been talked up as the end of the film series. Seeing as Universal also has a partnership with Illumination Entertainment, it could also be assumed that the powerhouses of Despicable Me and the newly minted franchise The Secret Life of Pets need their breathing room. So instead of crowding the market with their own product, Universal may have mandated the change in order to give the film some more time to be made correctly, as well as to let Illumination continue to rake in the dough.
How To Train Your Dragon 3 will now see its day in theaters on March 1, 2019, though don't be surprised if there's at least one more shift in release date, because who opens an animated film against a superhero movie?