“” is soaring toward a $53 million launch weekend at 4,259 North American locations, early estimates showed on Friday.
That estimate is well above Universal’s forecast in the $40 million range at 4,259 sites — and ahead 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 to be released by Universal since it acquired the animation studio for $3.8 billion in 2016. If the estimate holds, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” will 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 companion Toothless as they seek a dragon utopia called the Hidden World. Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, and F. Murray Abraham lend their voices to the pic.
“The Hidden World” has 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 and both were nominated for best animated feature Oscars. Dean DeBlois directed all three films.
Fox’s second weekend of “Alita: Battle Angel” will probably lead the rest of pack in the $11 million to $12 million range at 3,830 venues. 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.
Warner Bros.’ third weekend of the animated comedy “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is heading for third place with about $10 million at 3,830 sites. The sequel should reach about $84 million by the end of the weekend.
MGM’s wrestling comedy-drama “Fighting With My Family,” starring Florence Pugh, is expanding to 2,711 screens and should earn about $8 million.
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 major hit this year and last year’s mega-hit “Black Panther,” which took in $292 million in its first week. That trend should begin to reverse when “Captain Marvel” opens on March 8 amid expectations of a $100 million-plus launch.