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‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Will Be a “Bittersweet” Goodbye to the Franchise

How to Train Your Dragon isn’t just one of the best animated movies of the decade, but it can be argued to be the best animated franchise of the decade. The series of movies captured our hearts from the moment we first saw Hiccup and Toothless have any kind of connection together, and it’s only grown stronger since. The original was so successful that it opened the door for a smash-hit sequel and TV spinoffs that were held just as high. We’ve known for some time that the third movie in the series would more-than-likely conclude the trilogy, but never did we think it could wrap it up for good.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World isn’t released in theaters until next Spring, but it’s such a popular upcoming title, that it’s hard to not think or talk about it. Entertainment Weekly recently caught up filmmaker Dean DeBlois, the man who has shepherded this franchise from the very beginning. In the interview, DeBlois talks about how and when they came up with the ending, and what kind of goodbye they’re going for. Here’s an excerpt from EW’s story:

“We thought about it for a long time and came up with what we think is a bittersweet way to say goodbye to these characters, but the right way,” says DeBlois, who also co-wrote and directed Lilo & Stitch with former HTTYD collaborator Chris Sanders. Hidden World not only marks the end of Hiccup’s trilogy but, to DeBlois’ knowledge, also the end of its television spin-offs. The writer-director likens the trilogy’s finale to the way Cowell signed off her book series when she ended it in 2015: “You will understand why Hiccup says, as you heard in the trailer, ‘There were dragons when I was a boy.’ And by the end of this film, you’ll have answered the question [of] what could have happened to them.”

That’s an amazing comment line. There are very few filmmakers who, when they set out to make a trilogy or series of movies, have a plan that starts at point a and ends at point b. DeBlois is one of them. He has constantly said that no matter what kind of plans DreamWorks has for the franchise, his story with these characters started in the first movie and ends in the third. I really admire that, especially since it’s one of the most successful animated franchises of the last ten years.

Along with the comments from above, DeBlois also mentioned that Hiccup’s father Stoick will return in flashbacks in The Hidden World and gave a little bit more insight on that trailer tease of Toothless finding love with a female Light Fury:

“This movie plays with time more than its predecessors, utilizing flash-forwards as well as flashbacks, and in doing so, brings Stoick back to help guide Hiccup in his chiefly responsibility as protector of Berk. One early but pivotal scene finds Hiccup recalling his (unfathomably adorable) toddler self first hearing Stoick’s tale about a secret home of dragons hidden behind a great waterfall somewhere at the edge of the world. Stoick’s dream was to seal it off and stop the fighting between humans and dragons. Hiccup, however, sees the utopia as a potential new home where the people (and pets) of Berk can safely relocate; he’s proudly, if inadvertently, turned Berk into a bustling Viking metropolis of human-dragon cooperation, but with each dragon Hiccup rescues from trappers, he increases the target on Berk’s back to a less tolerant outside world.”

“What we’re seeing in this story is Toothless learning to trust his own instincts,” says the producer. “It’s not just a B-story. This is a potential agent of change that forces Hiccup to consider what sort of leader he wants to be, or even can be, without Toothless.”

While we have seen or heard very minimal from these movie thus far, I can’t contain my excitement about the third movie. I haven’t read the books these movies are based on, but these stories make me want to eventual read them and see what I’m missing out on. With how these characters have grown and how much older these stories have gotten, while it will be very bittersweet next Spring, I’m very excited to see how Hiccup and Toothless’ story ends, especially since it will wrap the entire franchise up.

What do you think of this news? Do you want to see more stories or are you looking forward to a conclusion? Are you just as much of a fan of this series as I am? Read the books? Starring the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, F. Murray Abraham, Cate Blanchett and Gerard Butler, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World flies into theaters on March 1st, 2019.

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