The Curious Case Of ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’

Written by Catherine Ross

How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is a spectacular movie. Critics have been raving about it since its first premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, and audiences have been giving it consistently positive reviews. The movie has a rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences gave it an A cinemascore, suggesting that word-of-mouth will keep it doing well in theatres. While the weeks and months preceding its release were filled with concerns that the high expectations based on the original movie would lead the sequel to disappoint fans, most people who saw HTTYD 2 proclaimed it was as good as, if not better than, the original! That’s a rare compliment for a sequel, and there are a few factors which might have led to its mass appeal:

dragon poster

1. Incredible animation – No one has been able to deny that ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is a visual treat. The skilled artists and animators working on this movie have done a brilliant job, with incredible care to provide high-quality visuals and fine details in every scene. With numerous flying sequences and a full-fledged war scene including dragon versus dragon fighting, the movie left audiences very impressed with its masterful animation.

2. Original, independent storyline –‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ does not play out like a movie trying to milk the success of its predecessor. Audiences can enjoy it even without having seen the first movie, and still be left wanting to know what happens next. This movie stands on its own feet, and has been greatly appreciated for doing so.

3. A mature plot–Audiences of all ages can enjoy ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’, as it tells a moving story that deals with mature themes and ideas. While kids will certainly enjoy seeing their beloved characters back in a new adventure, there is plenty that will keep adults riveted to their seats as well.

However, the mystery around ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is not about why everyone loves the movie. The truly curious thing about the movie is why it is under-performing at the box office! With so many stellar reviews and so much working in its favor, everyone expected the movie to greatly outperform the original. However, while ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ grossed $43.7 million in its opening weekend, HTTYD 2 could only rake in $ 50 million, a mere 14% jump. The figure dropped 49% to $25 million in its second weekend, a decrease that is significantly greater than the 34% decline seen by its predecessor in the second week. These figures suggest that ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ will actually do worse than the first movie overall. Why such a contradiction between audience reviews and box office performance? Here are a few theories.

1. It scared away younger audiences – While the director was applauded for giving the sequel a more mature treatment, it may not have been the best move in terms of commercial viability. After all, animated movies are always portrayed as children’s movies, automatically keeping a section of older movie goers away from theatres. In such a case, including adult themes such as violence and death and potentially scaring away the kids will only act counterproductively, leading to disappointing runs at the box office. Many fans do feel that the anxious response from parents is uncalled for, and that kids shouldn’t be shielded from the themes dealt with in ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’. However, as long as they can’t change the parents’ minds, they can’t do much to console the makers of the movie.

2. It distanced newcomers –Some fans feel that the naming of the movie wasn’t done right. After all, you aren’t likely to want to watch ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ if you haven’t watched or liked ‘How to Train Your Dragon’. The producers may have fared better with a more original name, perhaps something on the lines of the ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series by Cressida Cowell. ‘How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm’, perhaps?

3. The marketing wasn’t done right – Many people feel that the marketing efforts for ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ were not good enough. Apart from the disappointment surrounding the spoiler in the trailer, people felt that the movie wasn’t given enough publicity.

Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that the box office performance of ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ has come both as a surprise and a disappointment to the producers and fans alike. After all, where’s the motivation to produce truly good movies when truly good movies don’t spell returns for the investors? Let’s just hope that the curious case of ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ doesn’t convince director Dean DeBlois to alter course or change his plans for the remaining two movies in the series.

Catherine Ross is a full-time stay-at-home-mum who believes learning should be enjoyable for young minds. An erstwhile elementary school teacher, Catherine loves coming up with creative ways through which kids can grasp the seemingly difficult concepts of learning easily. She believes that a ‘fun factor’ can go a long way in enhancing kids’ understanding and blogs at

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