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Box Office: ‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’ Flying to $40 Million-Plus Debut

Universal and DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” will soar to the top of the domestic box office when it debuts this weekend in over 4,000 North American theaters.

The studio anticipates an opening around $40 million, which would fall just short of the debut of its predecessors, 2010’s “How to Train Your Dragon” ($43.7 million) and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” ($49.4 million). Independent tracking services, however, estimate the movie could earn as much as $50 million in its first three days of release. As the lone newcomer to the marquee, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” will easily claim victory in North America.

Overseas, the animated adventure is already off to a mighty start, earning $175 million since beginning its international rollout in January. It launches in nine additional foreign markets this weekend, followed by China on March 1.

The final entry in the “Dragon” trilogy follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless (America Ferrera) as they seek a dragon utopia called the Hidden World. The third installment once again reunites Baruchel and Ferrera with director-writer Dean DeBlois. The voice cast also includes Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Kit Harington, and F. Murray Abraham. Critics praised the big finale, giving “The Hidden World” a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

It’s the first iteration to be distributed by Universal since the studio’s parent company, NBCUniversal, acquired DreamWorks Animation in 2016. The first two films were released by Paramount and Fox, respectively, and grossed over $1 billion combined at the worldwide box office.

“How to Train Your Dragon 3” will face the strongest competition from last weekend’s champ, “Alita: Battle Angel.” Fox’s cyberpunk fantasy adventure has generated $42 million to date at the domestic box office and could add another $14 million in its second week of release.

Warner Bros.’ animated adventure “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” will also be vying for love from families. The sequel has pocketed $69 million in three weeks, which is how much its predecessor, 2014’s “The Lego Movie” made in its opening weekend. Although “The Lego Movie 2” fell short of initial box office expectations, it has seen solid holdover in subsequent weeks.

Elsewhere, the Dwayne Johnson-produced WWE drama “Fighting With My Family” is expanding to 2,500 screens. MGM picked up $196,000 when the film opened in four locations last weekend. It is expected to earn $7 million when it hits theaters nationwide.

After a dismal President’s Day weekend that had the lowest ticket sales in almost 20 years, the domestic box office is pacing 20% behind 2018, according to Comscore. The comps are tough, since this time last year saw Marvel’s “Black Panther” invigorate multiplexes during its record-breaking run in theaters. Help could be on the way soon in the form of a fellow comic book cohort. Brie Larson’s “Captain Marvel,” the studio’s first female-led superhero film, is on track to deliver the first $100 million-plus opening of the year when it launches on March 8.

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