How DreamWorks Animation & Universal Set A $55M+ Record Opening For ‘Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’

DreamWorks Animation

Final Sunday AM Update after 7:43AM post: DreamWorks Animation/Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World came in at $55.5M per studio figures this morning after a $22.4M Saturday that was +28% over Friday. Despite being lower than industry figures yesterday morning that opening is one to be proud about: The best debut in DWA’s Dragon franchise and the second best opening for an animated film in February after The Lego Movie ($69M). Not to mention, Hidden World best its earlier week projections of $40M-$45M. That’s a great vibe for the marketplace after tracking being so far off this season for pics such as Glass and Lego Movie 2. With previews, Dragon is at $58M.

“The response to the film has been incredible. Audiences have seen these characters develop and grow over the years in a way that’s particularly unique in the animation landscape. Throughout the journey, the franchise’s loyal fan base continues to show their support and really true dedication, which is clear from this weekend’s results,” exclaimed Universal Domestic Distribution Boss Jim Orr.

We explained in the previous post how web traffic results for Hidden World indicated ahead of time how it would be a huge hit. A lucrative advance overseas open has now shot Hidden World to $275M WW.

This threequel is from the animation studio known for big stunts for their big movies: They’ve dropped Jerry Seinfeld off the Carlton in Cannes dressed up for Bee Movie and a full-size lifelike Toothless walk the red carpet there. As such, Hidden World received all the vertical integration spoils by being in the NBC Comcast universe including a Toothless Float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a presence in the DreamWorks’ Trolls Holiday Special, both of which aired on NBC. Spots also ran during the NFL playoffs that aired on NBC.

Emmy Rose Cuvelier as Astrid and Gabriel Cardier as Hiccup pose in front of the float as DreamWorks Animation presents the “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” float in the 2019 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, CA Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

On New Year’s Day, there was a custom How to Train Your Dragon float featured in the Rose Parade. Al Roker did his TODAY segment on the Rose Parade in front Dragon float as it was being built. Hispanic outreach for this event included a live national interview from the parade with Univision, lower third on Float coverage and a behind-the-scenes featurette in Spanish telling the story of the actor who portrayed Hiccup on our float.

Other Comcast/NBCUniversal Symphony support included custom integrations with America’s Got Talent: The Champions, Xfinity and NBC Sports. The first How to Train Your Dragon aired on NBC, SYFY and Universal Kids and there was a dragon-spotting contest on social media, where dragons were placed on the websites of Symphony partners for participants to collect dragons and unlock prizes.


Further optimization of the holidays when everyone was either out celebrating or in their homes watching TV: There was a Hidden World Times Square Takeover, which included a custom outdoor digital billboard as well as a New Year’s Eve custom spot with Toothless, where he tries to steal the countdown ball. The spot was blasted across New Year’s Eve specials, a cable blitz, a YouTube bumper blitz and Hispanic New Year’s Eve programs.

On Christmas Day, there was a Winter Break takeover, which included five spots in the NBA as well as early awareness custom content such as TBS’ “24 Hours of Christmas” stunt and a custom piece with Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, in which he brought Toothless to a press conference.

Other marketing highlights include a virtual reality experience partnership with Walmart which allowed users to go into the Hidden World, showcased at 40 events over an eight week frame in cities such as LA, Vegas, Phoenix, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Bentonville. Promo partners included JetBlue, iFly Indoor Skydiving, Hewlett Packard and FAO Schwarz, the first film partnership at the toy store’s new 30 Rock location.

The Hispanic audience turnout for Hidden grew from 18% on PostTrak on Friday night to 22% yesterday, all great takeaways from the studio’s multicultural marketing efforts which included a four week linear media campaign on notable Hispanic-audience hits including La Voz Series premiere, Exatlon Premiere, and episodes of Mira Quien Baila All-Stars; custom programs with Mitu and Pero Like; and integrated marketing pieces with Mira Quien Baila All Stars, LigaMX and La Voz.

On TV, Uni ran Hidden World spots on such shows such as The Bachelor, This Is Us, Happy Together, The Kids Are Alright, Modern Family, Riverdale, Young Sheldon, Fresh off the Boat, Hell’s Kitchen, Shark Tank, Supergirl, AGT Champions, The Big Bang Theory, Will & Grace, Grey’s Anatomy, The World’s Best, The Fix, The Passage, Celebrity Big Brother, Superstore, The Grammy Awards, Survivor, Top Chef, NFL on FOX, NFL on NBC, NBA on ESPN, NBA on ABC, NBA on TNT.

 Cable networks targeted for the campaign included Cartoon, Disney XD, Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Universal Kids, AMC, Animal Planet, Freeform, Nat Geo Wild, Nick@Nite, USA, Bravo, E!, Food Network, HGTV, Lifetime, MTV, Oxygen, Paramount, TLC, Adult Swim, A&E, Comedy Central, Discovery, ESPN, NBA TV, NBC Sports Network, Syfy, FX, FXX, TBS, TNT, The Weather Channel, BET, VH1, TV One.

Custom spots were created for such channels as the Nickelodeon suite of channels, Cartoon Network, Disney XD, The Weather Channel, Animal Planet. To highlight the new love interest in the film, custom spots were also created to air on Lifetime’s Married at First Sight and Freeform’s Good Trouble.

 All in domestic ticket sales are at $128.6M for this weekend, +2% over the 3-day portion of the Presidents Day frame a week ago. Annual B.O. through today counts $1.39B, -25% behind the same period a year ago.

Alita: Battle Angel
Alita 20th Century Fox

Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel improved on its Saturday AM prospects with $12M second weekend, -58% (still low), with a 10-day of $60.6M. Saturday with $5.5M was +76%. Even with the record $62M China opening for Fox, our sources still believe that Alita will have a very hard time seeing profit. Currently global B.O. is $262.6M, which is solid for a pic that’s lower than $170M in production cost plus $140M-$160M global P&A. The domestic drop indicates front-loading, and one film finance source hears from their Chinese partners that Alita may be front-loaded there as well.


MGM’s Fighting With My Family came in ahead of what we were seeing with $8M. Business was up 28% yesterday. With its stellar A- CinemaScore in wide release, and great PostTrak exits of 83% in the top two boxes with a 57% recommend, we hear that the pic has a better chance at long legs, potentially a 4x-5x multiple, than what Fox pulled off with Eddie the Eagle ($15.7M). There’s extra muscle here from WWE and WWE Studios targeting their fans on social. Family overperformed in the West, Northeast, South Central with the top theaters in the country being the AMC Burbank, Atlantic Station Stadium in Atlanta, Levittown 10 in New York, Santikos Casa Blanca in San Antonio, TX and the Camelview in Scottsdale, AZ.

Roadside Attractions’ faith-based pic Run the Race came in 10th with $2.2M. Universal/Participant Media/DreamWorks’ Green Book is just under $70M heading into Oscar night. Should the film win Best Picture, analysts say it can look forward to another $7M-$9M at the domestic box office.

We’ll have more analysis later this morning.


thumb rank pic dis scrs(cg) fri sat sun 3-day total wk
1 How to Train Your Dragon 3 DWA/Uni 4,259 $17.4M $22.4M $15.6M $55.M $58M 1
2 Alita Fox 3,802 (+12) $3.1M $5.5M $3.4M $12M (-58%) $60.6M 2
3 Lego Movie 2 WB 3,833 (-470) $2.1M $4.6M $3.2M $10M (-52%) $83.6M 3
4 Fighting With My Family  MGM 2,711 (+2707) $2.5M $3.2M  $2.1M $8M (+5673%) $8.2M 2
5 Isn’t It Romantic NL/WB 3,444 $2.2M $3.3M $1.9M $7.5M (-47%) $33.7M 2
6 What Men Want Par 2,389 (-523) $1.4M $2.3M  $1.5M $5.2M (-51%) $45M 3
7 Happy Death Day 2 U Uni/Blum 3,212 (+5) $1.4M $2.2M  $1.2M $4.9M (-47%) $21.6M 2
8 Cold Pursuit LG 2,320 (-310) $870K $1.4M $55K $3.3M (-45%) $27M 3
9 The Upside STX 2,148 (-633) $890K $1.5M $830K $3.2M (-41%) $99.7M 7
10 Run the Race RoadAtt 853 $760K $864K $647K $2.2M $2.2M 1
11 Green Book Uni/Part/DW 1,253 (-365) $566K $1M $507K $2M (-28%) $69.6M 15

4th UPDATE, Saturday AM Writethru following Friday PM update: It’s always great when your threequel doesn’t play like one at the box office, rather significantly better.

While DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda 3 repped the lowest opening in its trilogy at $41.2M (down from its original’s $60.2M), the studio’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World via Universal is heading toward the best debut out of three with $60M at 4,259 theaters coming off its 2014 part 2 ($49.4M) and 2010 original ($43.7M). With previews, running total is $62.5M.

Why is this movie winning? There remains plenty of love for this franchise, not to mention, it’s the supposed finale to the trilogy. As such, DWA and filmmaker Dean DeBlois have left no stone unturned, and ensured that Hidden World delivers on a smart, emotional level. The hook: If you love Toothless the dragon, then set him free. Add in a great 91% Rotten Tomatoes score, and off we go. By the looks of its, Hidden World is rolling to the second best February opening of all-tie for an animated pic behind The Lego Movie ($69M) and ahead of The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water ($55.3M).

Decades ago at the box office, whenever a major studio release opened abroad before domestic (this is before 007 and Marvel’s heydays), it meant that the movie was damaged goods. That, of course, is no longer true. Uni launched Hidden World overseas first, and quite wide, versus the staggered rollout that’s typically executed abroad post domestic with an animated movie. As a result, all that goodwill and great word of mouth ($185M overseas before U.S./Canada opening, now $215.3M to date per Uni) for Hidden World has flowed back here to the states.

The ‘A’ CinemaScore and ComScore/Screen Engine PostTrak polls are proof of that: 5 stars from general audiences (90% overall), 5 stars from parents (93%) and 4 1/2 stars from kids under 12 (92%). Overall audience make-up here is 52% general audience, 34% kids, and 14% parents. General audiences are split 50/50 under/over 25 years of age and female heavy at 57% to 43% male. Big definite recommends from parents (83%), general audiences (77%) and kids under 12 (74%). Strong turnout by 13-17 (21%), a number and a demo that studios covet, as well as 18-24 year olds at 29%. Diversity demos are 56% Caucasian, 22% Hispanic, 12% Asian and 8% African American.

On CinemaScore, the under/over 25 age group between Hidden World and its previous chapter have remained steady with 52% under 25. Hidden World played best in the West, Mid-West, & South-West but was very strong across the board.

More than advance ticket sales, early online trailer traffic is increasingly becoming a box office bellwether. I’m sure there are those in analytical camps who will disagree, but when you start seeing 200M-plus views for early teaser trailers, it’s a damn good sign that people want to see your movie (note there’s some ‘juicing’ that goes on with these numbers, meaning they’re not just organic clicks, but ad buy views are built in, aka trailers bought on Facebook which automatically play when you log on). Still Hidden World repped DWA’s biggest trailer ever at 212M views back in July. In theaters, Hidden World trailered on such hits as Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Ant-Man and the Wasp.

Views for future Hidden World trailers didn’t ebb greatly. The second one launched out of New York Comic Con last fall drew 100M global views with placement on such such holiday and winter pics such as Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Bumblebee and Glass. 

The third trailer was a hit, and an out-of-the-box concept: It was an audition piece featuring Kit Harington and Toothless, and it racked up 90M global views. Exclaims social media monitor RelishMix, “The clip is infectious, demands multiple views and to the studio’s credit, was shared optimally across YouTube.  The video was not only ripped and reposted by fans, but also placed on major owned and earned Channels for maximum views and engagement. The trailer was linked across such channels as Entertainment Access (3M views), Dreamworks TV (owned, 4.9M), Universal Pictures UK (2.9M) and the Hobbs & Shaw trailer (821K views).”

Combing Hidden World‘s 346M social media universe across YouTube views, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, RelishMix noticed platinum buzz among fans: “While no film has 100% positive discussion, the third installment in the Dragon series surely comes close; its conversation reminiscent of Incredibles 2 in its sentimentality. Fans just can’t believe that this will be the last installment in the series, so they’re making plans to enjoy the third film in theaters – and also sharing their experiences with friends online.The music, voice performers, story line and heartfelt memories of the series are also exhaustively discussed.”

Another indicator of want-to-see: Audiences literally paying $2.5M to watch Hidden World in advance at Fandango screenings. The fact that folks want to pay for a preview rather than see it for free says plenty about a pic’s popularity.

20th Century Fox

Fox’s Alita: Battle Angel is down 60% with an estimated $11.1M at 3,802 theaters despite having a good share of Imax and all the Dolbys. Running U.S/Canada total by Sunday will be just under $60M. That’s not good and it means Alita was front-loaded by James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez fans. This is not the sleeper cinema spectacle we’ve come to expect from Cameron. Men under 25 at 36% are driving business in weekend 2 followed by males over 25 at 28% per PostTrak. As Nancy reported earlier, the James Cameron production is looking at a $60M opening in China, just under what Ready Player One filed at $61.6M. Remember only 25%-27% of that comes back to Fox’s bank account here in the U.S.

Warner Bros. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is eyeing an estimated third weekend in third of $9.6M, -54% for a running total of $83.2M.  New Line’s second weekend of Isn’t It Romantic at an estimated $7.4M in fifth place, -47% for a running total by Sunday of $33.6M.


The $7.7M result for MGM’s Fighting With My Family, isn’t amazing, though slightly ahead of the $7M that tracking was spotting. MGM shelled out $17.5M for global rights to the Film 4/Seven Bucks production which was made outside the studio system. This was a passion project for Dwayne Johnson. The original documentary The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family about British female wrestler Paige reminded him of his own family. Even if this film has a short life theatrically, one has to think that for Johnson, not making Family at all would be the definition of misfire. For Johnson, Family was a story that needed to be told, and on the big screen.

The box office situation with Fighting With My Family is reminiscent of Eddie the Eagle two years ago, another real life British sports biopic about an athlete many mainstream Americans may not know. Both pics had big stars all over their promotion: Johnson with Family, Hugh Jackman with Eddie. Both titles also had excellent reviews and exits, but their challenge remained in getting people inside the theater. That’s because both movies are inherently dressed up like niche movies.

Eddie earned great reviews (81% RT) and exits (A CinemaScore), yet couldn’t fly at the box office with a $6M start, and $15.7M final domestic.  Once people sit down in the theater for Fighting With My Family, they love it: The wrestling pic has an A CinemaScore, 4 Stars on PostTrak with a 57% definite recommend. Females and males over 25 at 31% each are buying tickets and giving it respectively its best scores of 85% and 82%. RelishMix even reports that social chatter last night for Family “has fans piling-on over the positive and enthusiastic tone to the film and high concept of The Rock playing The Rock and his real life involvement in delivering the project which continues from pre-release buzz — indexing from RelishMix Convo of 7.0, up to 8.5 out of 10, which is very strong.”

Family drew 51% male, 65% under 35 with the single largest quad being 25-34 at 28%. The mix was 52% Caucasian, 20% Hispanic, 16% Asian/Other, & 12% African American. Family played best on the coasts, especially in the West, with the best markets being New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Seattle, Detroit, and more.

Johnson never slacks when it comes to promotion and he’s been tirelessly doing press, traveling to Sundance, and spreading the word about Family to his 202M social media followers (which rep 71% of the pic’s strong 283M social media universe). MGM tried to give this movie a little bit of runway last weekend in a limited New York and LA launch to get the good word out with Johnson beaming in by satellite to a sold-out AMC Century City show last Saturday night.

During the post screening Q&A at the Sundance premiere for Family, an audience member asked Johnson if he would ever make a movie or doc about his own wrestling dynasty, the Maivias. The blockbuster star answered, “We considered it…possibly one day. The lineage is long, if I can find the right writer who understands it. Stephen Merchant, maybe.” If there’s a marquee wrestling biopic that should be made, it’s that one.

Roadside Attractions has the faith-based high school sports drama Run the Race starring Frances Fisher, Mykelti Williamson, Tim Tebow (an EP here) and Mario Van Peebles at 853 theaters with a $2.5M opening. Pic has 4 1/2 stars on PostTrak with a 74% definite recommend. Pic follows two desperate brothers, who are reeling from their mother’s death and their father’s abandonment. When one brother, a promising football star suffers a devastating injury, his other brother laces up his track cleats to salvage their future and provide hope.

What’s the situation for Oscar’s Best Picture winner? Read more about Green Book, Roma or Black Panther here.

Industry estimates — chart updating.


thumb rank film dis. screens (chg) friday 3-day total wk
1 how To Train Your Dragon 3 DWA/Uni 4,259 $17.5M $60M  $62.5M 1
2 Alita Fox 3,802 (+12) $3.1M (-58%) $11.1M (-61%) $59.7M 2
3 Lego Movie 2 WB 3,833 (-470) $2.1M (-51%) $9.6M
$83.2M 3
4 Fighting With My Family MGM 2,711 (+2707) $2.6M (+6250%) $7.7M (+5479%) $7.9M 2
5 Isn’t It Romantic NL/WB 3,444 $2.2M (-47%) $7.4M (-47%)  $33.6M 2
6 What Men Want Par 2,389 (-523) $1.4M (-50%) $5.2M
$45M 3
7 Happy Death Day 2U Uni/Blum 3,212 (+5) $1.4M (-49%) $4.7M
$21.4M 2
8 The Upside STX 2,148 (-633) $915K (-32%) $3.5M (-35%)  $100M 7
9 Cold Pursuit LG 2,320 (-310) $874K (-42%) $3.3M (-43%) $27.1M 3
10 Run the Race RoadAtt 853 $759K $2.23M $2.23M 1
11 Green Book Uni/DW/Part 1,253 (-365) $562K (-16%) $2.2M (-23%) $69.7M 15

PREVIOUS, FRIDAY AM: After collecting $185M at the overseas box office, DreamWorks Animation’s threequel How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World finally touched down here in U.S./Canada with a Thursday night preview gross of $3M at 3,200 theaters.

Going into this weekend, the Universal-released Dragon has several facets working for it. Not just its overseas box office momentum, but a 91% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and $2.5M in paid previews from its Fandango partnership, a number that beats the early preview cash made by Sony/Amazon’s preview team-up for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. Hidden World plays even wider today at 4,259 locations.

Previews started at 6PM, and note there are some winter breaks that are in effect: ComScore reports 12% K-12 schools off yesterday with 1% college. That number moves up to 14% K-12 on break today and 2% college.

Hidden World‘s Thursday figure twice bests the $1.5M Thursday earned recently by Warner Bros.’ The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part which went on to do $34.1M in its opening weekend. Hidden World also beats the preview B.O. of The Lego Batman Movie ($2.2M), How to Train Your Dragon 2 ($2M), Zootopia ($1.7M) and The Boss Baby ($1.5M).


Also expanding today from last weekend’s four New York and LA locations is MGM/Seven Bucks’ Fighting With My Family which is heading into 2,711. The WWE feature about the rise of Norwich, UK female wrestler Paige ended its first week with $215K and minted another $450K last night.  That’s far more than the $175K that Fox’s Eddie the Eagle did in previews three years ago. Like Fighting With My Family, Eddie the Eagle was also the Sundance Film Festival secret screening. Stephen Merchant, who starred with Dwayne Johnson in 2010’s Tooth Fairy, directed Fighting With My Family. The pic already has an A CinemaScore. MGM acquired global rights for Fighting With My Family out of Berlin two years ago for $17.5M, an unprecedented pick-up for the market as exclusively reported by Deadline.

20th Century Fox/Lightstorm’s reported $170M sci-fi femme action pic Alita: Battle Angel ended her first week with an estimated $40M; $48.6M when you counts its opening on Valentine’s Day plus previews. The Robert Rodriguez-directed, James Cameron produced pic enters China and Japan today, and will keep all of its PLF, RealD, and most Imax hubs this weekend.

Elsewhere at the weekly box office: Warner’s The Lego Movie 2 ends its second week with $32.1M and a running total of $73.6M. On the regular chart, the pic was the second ranked pic with $1.1M yesterday after Alita‘s $1.6M.

New Line’s Isn’t It Romantic ends its first week with $20M; $20.6M counting last week’s midweek grosses and previews. Paramount’s What Men Want counts a second week of $14.6M and an estimated $39.8M.

Universal/Blumhouse’s Happy Death Day 2U saw an estimated first week of $12.9M, running week and a half total of $16.6M.


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