Dean DeBlois, co-director of How To Train Your Dragon and director of its sequel, has spoken about the future of the series.
DeBlois stated in an interview with Collider that the third film, currently pegged for a summer 2017 release, will be the finale. No two-parter movie, no fourth film; How To Train Your Dragon 3 is the conclusion of Hiccup and Toothless' epic story. While there was talks of a possible fourth film, DeBlois stated that he convinced a certain someone that it's got to end at part three.
“I think I’ve talked [Jeffrey Katzenberg] down from that (laughs). There may be spinoffs to come, but my involvement and my dedication to completing a story that has a reason for being and a strong sense of integrity and three chapters I think is in place and intact. Everybody seems to be in agreement that we’re moving in the right direction.”
I for one applaud this decision. While the How To Train Your Dragon universe is full of many possibilities, it's great that DeBlois wants to keep the main story as a well-rounded trilogy. DeBlois is currently writing the script for the third film, and revealed some details that suggest the film will be more dragon-centric than its predecessors…
“I’m also playing with the idea of what happened to the dragons and why they are no more, as suggested by Cressida Cowell’s books. So the whole mystery of where did they go? Did they come back? What transpired? I think it’s all compelling stuff and it’s definitely a story that’s gonna have a lot more Toothless emphasis in it. We continue to get more insight into the dragon world and shed light on their intelligence and all the aspects that we’ve been slowly cooking over the last two films.”
It's also good to hear that the filmmakers want to go a new direction for the next installment, and I also applaud them for doing just that with the sequel. How To Train Your Dragon and its sequel, I think, are two very different films. Film #2 doesn't rehash the first film's storyline, it just goes a completely different route and has a different emotional core, on top of taking place five years later and being a little darker. A third film focused heavily on the dragons sounds pretty exciting and fresh.
Now, as for spin-offs…
How To Train Your Dragon mines a lot of gold for DreamWorks. While the sequel may not have soared at the domestic box office, it was an international smash hit. Part Three should perform no differently, but I think spin-offs would be a great way to continue the series if DreamWorks wants more dragons. I love the world that this series takes place in, and I'd totally be down for spin-offs that focus on other characters and dragons. We can get cool world-building out of these spin-offs, and it won't negatively affect the trilogy. Heck, you could probably create a new series of films around a different batch of characters!
It's also interesting because, how many big mainstream animation studios do theatrical spin-offs anyways? DreamWorks has done it already, with Puss in Boots and the upcoming Penguins of Madagascar. Illumination has the Minions spin-off coming next year. The other studios haven't done this yet. Live-action studios have been doing this for a while, and today, spin-offs seem to be even hotter than ever before. The new Star Wars trilogy will be surrounded by tons of spin-offs, Harry Potter spin-off book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is getting a trilogy, Sony intends (used to intend?) to give us three Amazing Spider-Man spin-offs before getting to the third film, and so on.
Again, I say leave it as a trilogy and do spin-offs afterwards. I'd love to see as much of the dragon world as possible, but I definitely anticipate how Mr. DeBlois is going to end the epic saga.