How to Train Your Dragon (film)
|How to Train Your Dragon|
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Bonnie Arnold|
|Based on||How to Train Your Dragon|
by Cressida Cowell
|Music by||John Powell|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$494.9 million|
How to Train Your Dragon is a 2010 American computer-animated action fantasy film loosely based on the 2003 book of the same name by British author Cressida Cowell, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film was directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois from a screenplay by Will Davies, Sanders, and DeBlois, and stars the voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, T.J. Miller, and Kristen Wiig. The story takes place in a mythical Viking world where a young Viking teenager named Hiccup aspires to follow his tribe's tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon, a Night Fury, and with his chance at last of gaining the tribe's acceptance, he finds that he no longer wants to kill the dragon and instead befriends it.
How to Train Your Dragon premiered at the Gibson Amphitheater on March 21, 2010, and was released in the United States five days later on March 26. It was a critical and commercial success, earning nearly $500 million worldwide. The film was praised for its animation, voice acting, writing, musical score, and 3D sequences. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score at the 83rd Academy Awards, but lost to Toy Story 3 and The Social Network, respectively. How to Train Your Dragon also won ten Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature.
Two sequels, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, were released on June 13, 2014, and February 22, 2019, respectively. Much like their predecessor, both sequels were widely praised and became box office successes. The film's success has also inspired other merchandise, including a video game and a television series.
The Viking village of Berk, located on a remote island, is attacked frequently by dragons, which take livestock, damage property and endanger lives. Hiccup, the awkward fifteen-year-old son of the village chieftain, Stoick the Vast, is deemed too scrawny and weak to fight the dragons, so he instead creates mechanical devices under his apprenticeship with Gobber, the village blacksmith, though Hiccup's inventions often backfire. During one attack, Hiccup uses a bolas launcher to shoot down a Night Fury, a dangerous and rare dragon of which little is known, but no one believes him, so he searches for the fallen dragon on his own. He finds the dragon in the forest, tangled in his net, but cannot bring himself to kill him, and instead sets him free.
Stoick assembles a fleet to find the dragons' nest, and enters Hiccup in a dragon-fighting class taught by Gobber with the other teenagers, Fishlegs, Snotlout, Ruffnut, Tuffnut, and Astrid, a tough Viking girl on whom Hiccup has a crush, to train while he is away. Hiccup returns to the forest and finds the Night Fury still there, unable to fly because Hiccup's bolas accidentally tore off half of his tail fin. Hiccup befriends the dragon by offering fish and giving it the name 'Toothless', after his retractable teeth. Feeling guilty for crippling Toothless, Hiccup designs a harness rig and a prosthetic fin that allows the dragon to fly, but only with Hiccup riding, controlling the prosthetic.
Hiccup learns about dragon behavior as he works with Toothless, and is able to subtly and nonviolently subdue the captive dragons during training, earning him the admiration of his peers but causing Astrid to become increasingly jealous and suspicious of his behavior. Meanwhile, Stoick's fleet arrives home unsuccessful, though Stoick is cheered by Hiccup's unexpected success in dragon training. Hiccup is judged the winner of his training class, and must kill a dragon for his final exam. He tries to run away with Toothless, only to be followed by Astrid in the forest. Hiccup takes Astrid for a flight to demonstrate that the dragon is friendly. When Astrid reminds Hiccup of the exam, Toothless unexpectedly takes the pair to the dragons' nest, where they discover a gargantuan dragon named the Red Death. The smaller dragons continuously feed it live food in lieu of being eaten themselves; the two realize that the dragons have been attacking Berk under duress. Astrid wishes to tell the village about their discovery, but Hiccup advises against it to protect Toothless.
Back at the village the next day, Hiccup faces a captive Monstrous Nightmare dragon in his final exam. Instead of killing him, however, he tries to subdue him in an attempt to prove that dragons can be peaceful. When Stoick inadvertently angers the dragon into attacking, Toothless arrives to protect Hiccup, but is captured by the Vikings in the process. Hiccup accidentally reveals to Stoick that Toothless knows the location of the dragons' nest. Stoick disowns his son, and sets off for the nest with Toothless chained to the lead ship as a guide. After the Vikings have left, Hiccup is devastated, but Astrid prompts him to come to the realization that he spared Toothless out of compassion and empathy, not weakness. Hiccup then regains his confidence to go after Toothless and save him along with Astrid and the other teens.
The Viking attackers locate and break open the dragon's nest, causing most of the dragons to fly out, but also awakening the Red Death, which soon overwhelms the Vikings. Hiccup, Astrid, and their fellow pupils fly in, riding Berk's captive training dragons, providing cover fire, and distracting the Red Death while Hiccup frees Toothless. Hiccup almost drowns while doing so, but Stoick saves them both, reconciling with his son. Toothless and Hiccup destroy the Red Death by puncturing its wing membranes and then tricking the beast into making a plunge from which it cannot pull up after shooting a fireball into its mouth. Hiccup is injured in the fight, losing his lower left leg. Hiccup awakens back on Berk, finding that Gobber has fashioned him a prosthesis, and he is now admired by his village, especially Astrid, who kisses him. Berk begins a new era, with humans and dragons living in harmony.
- Jay Baruchel as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, the awkward son of Stoick the Vast.
- America Ferrera as Astrid Hofferson, Hiccup's fellow student in dragon training and his love interest.
- Gerard Butler as Stoick the Vast, the chieftain of Berk and Hiccup's father.
- Craig Ferguson as Gobber the Belch, Berk's blacksmith, a close friend of Stoick's and teacher of the tribe's young dragon-training recruits.
- Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs Ingerman, an enthusiastic youth knowledgeable in dragon lore which he often relates in role-playing game style.
- Jonah Hill as Snotlout Jorgenson, one of Hiccup's dragon-training classmates. Snotlout is brash, overconfident, and fairly unintelligent, but reliable.
- T.J. Miller and Kristen Wiig as Tuffnut and Ruffnut Thorston, a pair of quarrelsome twins.
- David Tennant as Spitelout, Snotlout's father.
- Robin Atkin Downes as Ack, a blond-bearded Viking.
- Philip McGrade as Starkard.
- Kieron Elliott as Hoark the Haggard, a Viking with a knotted beard.
- Ashley Jensen as Phlegma the Fierce, a female Viking who works as a botanist at the School of Dragons.
The book series by Cressida Cowell began coming to attention to the executives at DreamWorks Animation in 2004. Coming off her success in Over the Hedge, producer Bonnie Arnold shortly became interested in the newly acquired property. She kept focusing on the project as time went on, and when DreamWorks Animation co-president of production Bill Damaschke asked her what she wanted to work on next, she chose "How to Train Your Dragon".
During initial development, the plot followed the original novel closely, but about halfway through production Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, previously the writers & directors of Disney's Lilo & Stitch, took over as co-directors and it was altered. The original plot was described as, "heavily loyal to the book", but was regarded as being too "sweet" and "whimsical" as well as geared towards a too-young demographic, according to Baruchel. In the novel, Hiccup's dragon, Toothless, is a Common or Garden Dragon, a small breed. In the film, Toothless is an injured Night Fury, the rarest species of all dragons, far faster, aerodynamic and more powerful than the other species, and is large enough to serve as a flying mount for both Hiccup and Astrid. The filmmakers hired cinematographer Roger Deakins (known for frequently collaborating with the Coen brothers) as a visual consultant to help them with lighting and overall look of the film and to "add a live-action feel". Extensive research was done to depict both flight, as the directors knew they would be the biggest draw of the film's 3D effects, and fire, given animation could break away from the limitations seen in live-action films, where propane flames are usual due to being easier to extinguish. The dragons' design made sure to create animals that were comical and also innovative compared to other dragon fiction. Toothless in particular tried to combine various dragon traits in a black panther-inspired design, that also had large ears and eyes to convey emotion better.
The directors made sure to cash in the improvisation abilities of the secondary cast—Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig and T.J Miller—by frequently bringing them together in the recording sessions.
John Powell returned to DreamWorks Animation to score How to Train Your Dragon, making it his sixth collaboration with the studio, following his previous score for Kung Fu Panda (which he scored with Hans Zimmer). Powell composed an orchestral score, combining bombastic brass with loud percussion and soothing strings, while also using exotic Scottish and Irish tones with instruments like the penny whistle and bagpipes. Additionally, Icelandic singer Jónsi wrote and performed the song "Sticks & Stones" for the film. The score was released by Varèse Sarabande on March 23, 2010.
Overall, the score was well received by film score critics. Powell earned his first Academy Award nomination for his work on the film, ultimately losing to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their score for The Social Network.
How to Train Your Dragon had its United States premiere on March 21, 2010 at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, and was theatrically released on March 26, 2010 in the United States. It was originally scheduled for release on November 20, 2009, but was pushed back to avoid competition with crowded family films released in November. The film was digitally re-mastered into IMAX 3D, and released to 186 North American IMAX theatres, and approximately 80 IMAX theatres outside North America.
Competition for 3D screens
A month before the release, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg protested Warner Bros.' decision to convert Clash of the Titans from 2D to 3D, then to release it one week after How to Train Your Dragon. Entertainment reporter Kim Masters described the 3D release schedule around March 2010 as a "traffic jam", and speculated that the lack of 3D screen availability could hurt Katzenberg's prospects despite his support of the 3D format.
In March 2010, theater industry executives accused Paramount Pictures (who distributed the film on behalf of DreamWorks) of using high-pressure tactics to coerce theaters to screen How to Train Your Dragon rather than competing 3D releases, Clash of the Titans and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. As theater multiplexes often had just one 3D screen, theaters were unable to accommodate more than one 3D presentation at a time.
How to Train Your Dragon topped the North American box office with $43.7 million in its first weekend of release. The film grossed $217,581,231 in the United States and Canada and $277,297,528 in foreign countries with a worldwide total of $494,878,759. How to Train Your Dragon is DreamWorks Animation's highest-grossing film in the American and Canadian box office other than the Shrek films. It is the fifth-highest-grossing animated film of 2010 with $494.8 million, behind Toy Story 3 with $1,063.2 million, Shrek Forever After with $752.6 million, Tangled with $576.6 million, and Despicable Me with $543.1 million and the 10th-highest-grossing movie of 2010. As of 2019[update], the How to Train Your Dragon series has grossed over $1 billion worldwide.
How to Train Your Dragon was widely praised upon its release. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 99% of critics gave the film a positive review, based on 208 reviews from professional critics, with an overall rating average of 7.92/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars." The film is DreamWorks Animation's highest-rated film on the Rotten Tomatoes website. On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 75 based on 37 reviews from critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend revealed the average grade cinemagoers gave How to Train Your Dragon was A on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 stars out of 4, stating that: "It devotes a great deal of time to aerial battles between tamed dragons and evil ones, and not much to character or story development. But it's bright, good-looking, and has high energy". Claudia Puig of USA Today gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying, "It's a thrilling action-adventure saga with exhilarating 3-D animation, a clever comedy with witty dialogue, a coming-of-age tale with surprising depth and a sweetly poignant tale of friendship between man and animal." Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers praised the film, giving it three out of four stars and writing in his print review that the film "works enough miracles of 3-D animation to charm your socks off." Roger Moore of The Orlando Sentinel, who gave the film 21/ stars out of 4, wrote a mixed review describing the film as a "more coming-of-age dramedy or 'everything about your world view is wrong' message movie than it is a comedy, and that seems like a waste of a funny book, some very funny actors and some darned witty animation." Kyle Smith of the New York Post gave the film 2/4 stars labeling the film as, "Avatar for simpletons. But that title is already taken, by Avatar". Contrarily, Brett Michel of The Boston Phoenix stated that the film was better than Avatar. A. O. Scott of At The Movies felt the characters and the story were not strong points, but loved the cinematography and said, "that swooping and soaring, they are worth the price of a ticket, so go see it." Village Voice film critic Ella Taylor gave a more negative review of the film, describing it as an "adequate but unremarkable animated tale". Film critic James Berardinelli of ReelViews praised the film and its story, giving it 3.5 out of 4 stars. He wrote, "Technically proficient and featuring a witty, intelligent, surprisingly insightful script, How to Train Your Dragon comes close to the level of Pixar's recent output while easily exceeding the juvenilia DreamWorks has released in the last nine years." Entertainment Weekly film critic Owen Gleiberman praised the film giving it an A- and wrote, "How to Train Your Dragon rouses you in conventional ways, but it's also the rare animated film that uses 3-D for its breathtaking spatial and emotional possibilities." ViewLondon's Mathew Turner gave the film 4/5 stars, calling it, "beautifully animated and superbly written", and praised the voice cast, humor, and action. Matt Risley of Variety gave the film a perfect score of 5/5 stars, hailing it as, "undoubtedly Dreamworks' best film yet, and quite probably the best dragon movie ever made".
How to Train Your Dragon was released on single-disc DVD, two-disc double DVD pack and Blu-ray/DVD combo pack in Canada and the United States on Friday, October 15, 2010. Among the features available in the two-disc DVD edition is an original sequel short film, Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon. As of February 2012, 9.7 million home entertainment units were sold worldwide.
In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation from Paramount Pictures and transferred to 20th Century Fox before reverting to Universal Studios in 2018. As a result, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version of the film on January 22, 2019 alongside the film's sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2, making them the first DreamWorks Animation catalog titles to be released on that format, and in preparation for the release of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World the following month.
A sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, was confirmed on April 27, 2010. The film was directed and written by Dean DeBlois, the co-director of the first film. Bonnie Arnold, the producer of the first film, also returned. The film was released on June 13, 2014, by 20th Century Fox, to generally positive reviews. The entire original voice cast—Baruchel, Butler, Ferguson, Ferrera, Hill, Mintz-Plasse, Miller, and Wiig—returned for the sequel with the addition of Cate Blanchett, Djimon Hounsou, and Kit Harington.
A third film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, was released on February 22, 2019. The film was also directed and written by DeBlois, produced by Bonnie Arnold, and executive produced by Chris Sanders. Cate Blanchett and Kit Harington reprise their roles as Valka and Eret respectively from the second film, along with the original main cast, with the exception of Miller. It was released on February 22, 2019, by Universal Pictures.
Five post-movie short films were released: Legend of the Boneknapper Dragon (2010), Book of Dragons (2011), Gift of the Night Fury (2011), Dawn of the Dragon Racers (2014) and How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming (2019).
A television series based on the film premiered on Cartoon Network in Autumn 2012. Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and T. J. Miller reprise their roles as Hiccup, Astrid, Fishlegs, and Tuffnut. The series, set between the first and second film, follows Hiccup and his friends as they learn more about dragons, discover new ones, teach others to feel comfortable around them, adapt traditions within the village to fit their new friends and battle against enemies as they explore new worlds. Hiccup has been made head of Berk Dragon Academy.
An action adventure video game released by Activision, called How to Train Your Dragon, was released for the Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo DS gaming consoles. It is loosely based on the film and was released on March 23, 2010.
How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular is an arena show adaptation of the first film featuring 24 animatronic dragons, acrobats and projections. It premiered on March 2, 2012, in Melbourne, Australia.
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