“” flew to $3 million at about 3,200 North American location on Thursday night.
The figure doubled the preview gross for “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” which pulled in $1.5 million two weeks ago on Feb. 8.
Universal has predicted an opening weekend for “” in the $40 million range at 4,259 sites — somewhat shy of its predecessors, 2010’s “How to Train Your Dragon,” which made $43.7 million for Paramount, and 2014’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” which earned $49.4 million for Fox. The third entry in the franchise is the first DreamWorks Animation title being released by Universal since it acquired the animation studio in 2016 for $3.8 billion.
Other tracking services have estimated that “The Hidden World” could pull in as much as $50 million in its first three days of release. The animated adventure has already earned $181 million since beginning its international rollout in January.
“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” could become the top three-day domestic opener of 2019, eclipsing the $40.2 million reeled in by Universal’s “Glass” on Jan. 18-20. The final entry in the “Dragon” trilogy follows the young Viking Hiccup and his dragon companion Toothless as they seek a dragon utopia called the Hidden World. Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, and F. Murray Abraham star as the voice cast.
“The Hidden World” has strong backing from critics, with a 91% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes. The first two “How to Train Your Dragon” films grossed a cumulative $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office. Each was nominated for an Oscar for best animated feature. Dean DeBlois has directed all three films.
Fox’s second weekend of “Alita: Battle Angel” will probably lead the rest of pack in the $15 million range. The fantasy adventure, starring Rosa Salazar as a cyborg with no memory, has generated $47 million in North America in its first week, along with $103 million internationally. “Alita,” the first film to be produced by James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment since “Avatar” in 2009, received an A- CinemaScore from audiences on its opening
MGM’s wrestling comedy-drama “Fighting With My Family” is expanding to 2,711 screens and could earn $7 million to $10 million after taking in $209,713 at four sites in its first week. The pic made $450,000 in previews last night. It’s expected to battle Warner Bros.’ third weekend of the animated comedy “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.”
Overall domestic box office for 2019 has plunged 25% to $1.26 billion as of Feb. 20, according to Comscore. That’s due to the combination of a lack of a massive title this year and last year’s mega-hit “Black Panther.”
“As Oscar weekend puts a spotlight on the best that the industry has to offer, the year-to-date box office downturn looks to start a reversal of fortune as ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ bridges the gap between now and when ‘Captain Marvel’ opens in two weeks and the box office year of 2019 kicks off in earnest,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore.