‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’ Fires Up $3 Million at Thursday Box Office

Universal’s film in animated trilogy “The Hidden World” is projected for $45 million opening

How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World
Universal Pictures

“How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World,” Universal’s animated film and the first DreamWorks Animation film they’ve released since purchasing the studio, earned $3 million in Thursday box office previews from 3,200 screens.

On Feb. 2, Universal partnered with Fandango for a special advanced screening program and earned $2.5 million, bringing its cumulative total so far to $5.5 million. It’s opening on over 4,259 screens this weekend.

Independent trackers are predicting the three-quel in the series to make as much as $45 million, with the studio projecting a more conservative $40 million.

By comparison, Universal’s “The Grinch” from Illumination brought in $2.2 million in its Thursday box office previews, and it brought in $67.5 million in its opening weekend. The first “How to Train Your Dragon” film opened to $43.7 million when Paramount released it in 2010, and the sequel made $49.4 million via Fox in the summer of 2014. The sequel also only brought in $2 million in its Thursday previews. It’s also double a disappointing total for the second “Lego Movie” earlier this month, which only earned $1.5 million in its Thursday previews.

With last night’s grosses, “The Hidden World’s” international total from 49 markets currently stands at $185 million. The film opens in nine new markets this weekend.

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is the story of Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon Toothless as they uncover a secret dragon utopia that reveals that Toothless is not the only dragon of his species remaining. But they have to find it before a hired tyrant named Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) finds it first. Dean DeBlois, who created the series, returns to direct and write the three-quel. It also features the voice work of America Ferrera, Gerard Butler, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig and Kit Harrington. At time of writing, the film has a healthy 92 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Also expanding wide this week is “Fighting With My Family,” which premiered at Sundance and is produced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. MGM and WWE Films are releasing the wrestling movie starring Florence Pugh as a teen girl raised in a family of pro wrestlers in England who goes on to become a three-time WWE champion and youngest person to earn a title belt.

Stephan Merchant directed the film, which grossed $200,596 over President’s Day weekend on four screens and is now projected to open to $7 million. It has a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.