Dream Works Animation Says Merry Christmas…

How to Train Your Dragon 2, poster, movie, sequel

…with the first full-length trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2, the sequel to the wildly successful original from 2010.

As the trailer opens, we see that things have changed in Berk. At the beginning of the first film Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) wanted to be from anywhere but there. The sequel picks up five years later and the young Viking is obviously proud of his homeland where man and dragon harmoniously coexist.  (A good bridge between films is the short, 2011’s How to Train Your Dragon: Gift of the Night Fury.  It’s not a coincidence that it aired on television again mere days before the release of this trailer.)

Hiccup and Toothless, his pet dragon, their relationship obviously grown richer, are, of course, still adorable. They’re also still spending their time exploring and soaring above land and sea. During one such adventure, they discover hundreds of wild dragons living in an ice cave inhabited by the mysterious Valka (Cate Blanchett), who seems to be running a sort of dragon sanctuary.

trailer via JoBlo.com’s YouTube Channel

“A mother never forgets.”  What was that? Mother? Whose mother?? Hiccup’s? Or could it be she was referring to Toothless’ mother? As it stands we have six months to wait for an answer.  Hopefully we’ll get more clues with the next trailer. In any case, HTTYD2 is definitely on my “must see” list for 2014.

The official synopsis:

The thrilling second chapter of the epic HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON trilogy returns to the fantastical world of the heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless.  The inseparable duo must protect the peace – and save the future of men and dragons from the power-hungry Drago.

Directed by Dean DeBlois (although this time without his creative partner Chris Sanders), who is also the only credited screenwriter this time around, the cast includes voices from the original Gerard Butler (Stoik the Vast), Craig Ferguson (Gobber), America Ferrera (Astrid), Jonah Hill (SnotLout), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Fishlegs), T.J. Miller (Tuffnut),  and Kristen Wiig (Ruffnut), as well as newcomers Blanchette, Djimon Hounsou (Drago Bludvist), and Kit Harington (Eret).

The score of the first film was, in my humble opinion, a key factor contributing to its lasting popularity. Let it be known that composer John Powell has returned to score this film as well.

The first film was released in 3D, as well as conventional 2D, and I saw it both ways. I’ve said many times that I’m not generally a proponent of 3D, but there are some movies that I do believe deserve the technology, as well as your extra ducats. The original How to Train Your Dragon was one such and I believe, judging from the aerial scenes in this trailer alone, that the sequel will also qualify.  We’ll find out when How to Train Your Dragon 2 opens in 3D in the US on June 13 and 4th July in the UK.  By the way, HTTYD3 already has a release date: June 18, 2016.

Watch this space for more!

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Swept the ‘Annies’!!

…and I do mean SWEPT!

Disney/Pixar chose to leave the sponsoring organization, the International Animated Film Association and not participate in this year’s awards so consequently Toy Story 3 was only nominated in three categories. The argument could, therefore, be made that HTTYD‘s performance at last night’s awards ceremony was almost a foregone conclusion, given the absence of the latest (last?) entry in D/P’s powerhouse franchise. Looking at a list of all of the nominees, DreamWorks Animation clearly dominates, in a way that Disney/Pixar had in recent years. (That story was covered in this- weetiger3.livejournal.com/20657.html -post.)

JMHO, but that argument would do a disservice to the other nominees. For example, The Illusionist is the third feature nominated for an Academy Award (along with TS3 and HTTYD.)  The films nominated in the other  ‘Annie’ categories had also been mentioned as serious contenders for that nomination (with the exception of Summer Wars from Japan, which I had never heard of and whose only US release was limited to short runs in NY and LA.)

The fact that TS3 did not beat out HTTYD in those three categories in which it appeared does probably come down to the rift between D/P and the IAFA, but that in no way connotes that HTTYD was not worthy of the awards. These two films have been spoken of in the same breath for the entire awards season. They were the only two animated films released last year that had a lock on Academy nominations. Of course, it is always assumed that TS3 is the BMOC and HTTYD is the 2nd string. 

I would love to think that last night’s results would have some influence on Academy voters. Many of the voting members of the IAFA are voting members of the animation wing of AMPAS as well. The AMPAS membership as a whole obviously thinks well enough of TS3 to nominate it for Best Picture, but it remains to be seen if the chasm between D/P and the IAFA is wide enough to cause a surge in support for HTTYD.  (A lot of perceptions have changed about a lot of films since the nominations were announced so anything is possible!)

Here is a rundown of the film related categories with their winners in bold:

Best Animated Feature
Despicable Me – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
How to Train Your Dragon – DreamWorks Animation
Tangled – Disney
The Illusionist – Django Films
Toy Story 3 – Disney/Pixar

Best Animated Short Subject
Coyote Falls – Warner Bros. Animation
Day & Night – Pixar
Enrique Wrecks the World – House of Chai
The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger – Plymptoons Studio
The Renter – Jason Carpenter

Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Andrew Young Kim “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Jason Mayer “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Brett Miller “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Sebastian Quessy “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures
Krzysztof Rost “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation

Character Animation in a Feature Production
Mark Donald “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation
Anthony Hodgson “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation
Gabe Hordos “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Jakob Hjort Jensen "How To Train Your Dragon" – DreamWorks Animation
David Torres "How To Train Your Dragon" – DreamWorks Animation

Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Quentin Miles – Clash of the Titans
Ryan Page – Alice in Wonderland

Character Design in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
Carter Goodrich “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Timothy Lamb “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation
Nico Marlet “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation

Directing in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Mamoru Hosoda “Summer Wars” – Madhouse/Funimation
Chris Sanders, Dean DeBlois “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Lee Unkrich “Toy Story 3” – Disney/Pixar

Music in a Feature Production
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
David Hirschfelder “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures
John Powell “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation  !!!!
Harry Gregson Williams “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Pharrell Williams, Heitor Pereira “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures

Production Design in a Feature Production
Yarrow Cheney “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Eric Guillon “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Dan Hee Ryu “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures
Pierre Olivier Vincent “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Peter Zaslav “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation

Storyboarding in a Feature Production
Alessandro Carloni “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Paul Fisher “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Tom Owens “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Catherine Yuh Rader “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in a Feature Production
Jay Baruchel as Hiccup “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Gerard Butler as Stoick “How To Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Steve Carrell as Gru “Despicable Me” – Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
Cameron Diaz as Fiona “Shrek Forever After” – DreamWorks Animation
Geoffrey Rush as Ezylryb “Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” – Warner Bros. Pictures

Writing in a Feature Production
Michael Arndt “Toy Story 3” – Disney/Pixar
Sylvain Chomet “The Illusionist” – Django Films
William Davies, Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders “How to Train Your Dragon” – DreamWorks Animation
Dan Fogelman “Tangled” – Disney
Alan J. Schoolcraft, Brent Simons “Megamind” – DreamWorks Animation

The award I am most thrilled with is, of course, John Powell’s win for his score. I won’t gush or go into, yet again, how much I loved it or how deserving of awards and accolades I think it is. I will say that I hope this win, and the possibility of a win at next weekend’s BAFTAs, will translate into some Academy votes. The ballots are still out there. Vote early and often Academy members!

Again, I humbly offer my sincere congratulations to DreamWorks Animation and How to Train Your Dragon on their wins last night. My digits are still crossed for an upset on February 27th!

Unrelated note:  At yet another awards ceremony held last night,  Aaron Sorkin and The Social Network along with Christopher Nolan and Inception won WGA awards for Adapted and Original Screenplays respectively.  The odds are certainly in their favor that these wins will carry over to Oscar night. (This tells me that I’ve backed the right two horses, so to speak. lol)

Another “win” for HTTYD!

The Producers Guild has today announced their nominees for the best of 2010.  No real surprises that I can see, although others may disagree. The good news for How to Train Your Dragon, is that not only was it one of the three films nominated in the Animated Category:

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures Nominees:

but as predicted, Toy Story 3 was also nominated in the much larger overall "best film" category:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Nominees:

  • 127 Hours – Producers: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson
  • Black Swan – Producers: Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver
  • Inception – Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
  • The Fighter – Producers: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
  • The Kids Are All Right – Producers: Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
  • The King’s Speech – Producers: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
  • The Social Network – Producers: Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
  • The Town – Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Graham King
  • Toy Story 3 – Producer: Darla K. Anderson
  • True Grit – Producers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin

(thank you to Rebecca Murray at about.com !!)

Why is this good news for HTTYD you ask?  Because the Producer’s Guild is usually a very good barometer of the Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and I still maintain that if Toy Story 3 is nominated in that category, even though it will surely be nominated in the Animated Feature category as well, then HTTYD stands a (marginally) better chance of winning the former. 

HTTYD would still be a long-shot, but every little bit helps right?

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, can I just say how pleased I am with the overall list?  (Of course I can, it’s my blog…)

For your trouble…

*they plump when you click ’em*

Update: Early Oscar Predictions

For anyone who thought I was off my nut when I extolled the virtues of How To Train Your Dragon (HTTYD) back on April 25, 2010 and touted it as a possible Oscar nominee, it seems I have been at least partially vindicated by an article that ran in today’s Variety. (And no one disputes the legitimacy of Variety…right?)



"Today marks the halfway point for the calendar year, which in theory means that half of the 2010 awards contenders will have opened.

This is why they call it the Dream Factory.

Though the studios in recent years have found success by opening films in "unpopular" months ("Taken" in January, "District 9" in August, et al.), the majors and indies are generally sticking to the old timetable by hoarding kudos hopefuls until the last part of the year.

So, in an annual bid to shame distribs into acknowledging that the January through June period can be fruitful — Summit’s "Hurt Locker" bowed in June last year — here is a look at what’s opened in the first half of the year. As usual, there was good work, but the glass is less than half full.

With AMPAS and the Producers Guild increasing their best pic nominations to 10 last year, "Up" broke out of the toon ghetto. So might DreamWorks Animation’s "How to Train Your Dragon" and Disney-Pixar’s "Toy Story 3" follow in its footsteps? Neither is a sure bet, but they are more likely best-pic fodder than live-action releases to date.

However, there was terrific work, particularly the performances, in the Leonardo DiCaprio-Martin Scorsese "Shutter Island" (Paramount), Music Box’s "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" and Roadside Attractions’ "Winter’s Bone." Otherwise, there have been strong contributions in various categories like tech/craft/design (everything from Disney’s "Alice in Wonderland" to Universal’s "Robin Hood") and music (Janet Jackson’s tune from Lionsgate’s "Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too" and Summit’s "Twilight Saga: Eclipse," though the Academy’s music branch seems to avoid popular songs).**

**HTTYD should have been mentioned in this category as well, imho.

In addition to the animated "Dragon" and "Toy Story 3," there was DWA-Par’s "Shrek Forever After"; other feature-toon possibilities coming up include "Despicable Me" (Universal); "The Illusionist" (from "Triplets of Belleville’s" Sylvain Chomet, Sony Pictures Classics); "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole" (WB); DreamWorks Animation’s "Megamind"; "Tales from Earthsea" (made by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Disney); "Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil" (Weinstein); "My Dog Tulip" (Apparition); "Alpha and Omega" (Lionsgate), and "Tangled" (Disney).Under Academy rules, if all 13 bow this year, that’s enough for three Oscar nominees; if 16 toons open, that would mean five."


I’ll post updates as I see them (and more critics and pundits see the light.)  HTTYD has officially become Dreamworks Animation’s highest grossing "non-Shrek" animated film. It is also, according to Box Office Mojo, on a par to outgross Saving Private Ryan for highest grossing film of any kind from Dreamworks (even though technically DWA is separate from Dreamworks SKG, but we won’t quibble.) 
As of this date, HTTYD is still in theaters and is still making money, even though its "measly" $43 million opening had critics and B.O. watchers crying gloom and doom. In fact, as of last week, again according to Box Office Mojo, it had regained some theaters.  This movie is the perfect example of a film that has "LEGS"; probably some of the longest and strongest legs in recent memory. (Not counting Avatar, of course. Avatar is an anomaly, an aberration and should not be compared to anything.) Word of mouth over marketing has made this film a success, because it deserves to be.  Unless you’ve got small children, I’ll wager you didn’t see Kung Fu Panda more than once. I didn’t feel the need to see Shark Tale or Over the Hedge at all, and I certainly didn’t add them to my dvd collection, which I will definitely be doing when HTTYD is released. It’s just that good.

Bottom line for this post? Once again I say, don’t count it out come Oscar time. (You heard it here first folks. LOL)