DreamWorks How to Train Your Dragon Problem
Ron Seifried | On 18, Jun 2014
An animated sequel making $50 million on its opening weekend could become a failure in the eyes of Wall Street. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is on pace to make $650 million, a substantial profit for a $145 million budget, but an overall disappointment that has led DreamWorks Animation stock drop 11% on the first day of trading after its opening weekend and down 30% for the year, after an impressive run in 2013.
DreamWorks Animation feature length pictures have not performed as well as Pixar and Walt Disney Animation animated films in recent years. A string of movies have barely made a profit including Rise of the Guardians, Turbo and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. The Croods has been the only recent major hit for the studio.
DreamWorks makes impressive animated projects that are bogged down with weak character development and subpar scripts. The company’s focus has somewhat shifted to streaming media with Netflix-exclusive series for Turbo and Dragon, saturating their own franchise. Ticket sales may have been affected with the availability of several hours of the How to Train your Dragon series on a portable medium today’s kids are more accustomed to. More viewing hours at home of a particular universe lead to less inclination to shell out cash for more of the same tired fare. The incitement of IMAX 3D glasses is no longer a viable option and opening Father’s Day weekend combined with World Cup excitement may have also contributed to the soft opening.
There is still a chance Dragon can redeem itself. A very strong critical response paired with the potential that animated films usually stay in theaters for several weeks, it could reach north of $650 million and save DreamWorks the embarrassment of another mediocre outing. The studio will also need a hit with their final 2014 release, The Penguins of Madagascar, the first spinoff of the Madagascar film series.
Based on a book by Cressida Cowel, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a winner for one person; Jonah Hill. Voicing the character Snotlout Jorgenson and co-starring in 22 Jump Street, another sequel opening the same weekend, giving Hill the very rare distinction of appearing in the top two films in the same week.
DreamWorks Animation has had a somewhat erratic history. Beginning with their first release in 1998 with Antz, the studio’s tremendous success with the Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda franchises has met with a string of box office disappointments including The Road to El Dorado and Turbo. Dreamworks is moving ahead with a plethora of franchises; including new entries for Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, The Croods and a feature based on the toy Troll dolls and the recently acquired Felix the Cat character.
Stock drops and less than stellar opening will not stop this franchise. How to Train Your Dragon 3 is scheduled to be released June 17, 2016.