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Director Dean DeBlois And Producer Bonnie Arnold Talk ‘Dragon 2’ Bow At Taormina

TAORMINA, Sicily – “How To Train Your Dragon 2” opened the Taormina Film Festival in Italy, just as the DreamWorks Animation sequel bowed at the U.S. Box Office with a projected $53 million via Fox, a debut which both director Dean DeBlois and producer Bonnie Arnold seem content enough with.

“In the film business there is this tremendous pressure to have the opening weekend be the be-all and end-all,” said Arnold, speaking in the Sicilian seaside resort where “Dragon” screened Saturday for thousands in an open-air ancient Greek theatre.

“I think you have to be a little weary of that, especially with a film like this,” added the producer.

“I do feel that, at least domestically, there is some space, and I do feel that the word of mouth is going to be strong.”

DeBlois said he found it hard to know what to think of his film’s projected opening number “because some very enthusiastic forecasts were quoting it up near $70 million, and that was a few weeks back.” “Our own internal ones a week ago were somewhere around $60 million,” the “Dragon 2” director revealed.

“The nice thing is we have a large window of being the only animated film out there for about a month,” DeBlois noted.

The “Dragon 2” director and producer were both confident that the pic will have legs both domestically – where it bowed this weekend against Sony/MGM’s R-Rated comedy “22 Jump Street,” which is pulling an estimated $62 million – and also internationally, where Fox will stagger its release in coming weeks to work around the soccer World Cup and summer holidays.

As for  the now in-the-works “Dragon 3,” DeBlois said that, while nothing is cast in stone, he sees the next (and final) installment picking up almost immediately where this one leaves off.

“Now Hiccup is charged with looking after his people in a kind of tumultuous time, and you’ve got Toothless who is essentially tasked with the same thing,” the director said.

“So I’m curious about what happens next, in that sense. There is a threat still out there, and he has certainly not accomplished his goal of converting the world. This seems an immediate problem, as opposed to where we ended the first movie.”

The first public screening of Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys,” from Warner Bros, segues from “Dragon 2” on Sunday evening on the big screen at the Sicilian fest dedicated to genre and mainstream movies which is forging closer Hollywood ties.

The 60th Taormina Film Festival ends June 21.

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