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Fandango Selling ‘How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Tix to Early Screenings 20 Days Before Wide Release

Fandango is exclusively vending tickets to “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” early-access screenings taking place nearly three weeks before the DreamWorks Animation movie hits wide theatrical release.

The “How to Train Your Dragon 3” pact is all in the family: NBCUniversal owns both Fandango and DWA (which is housed within Universal Pictures). Fandango is looking to sweeten the pot by offering an additional perk to members of its Fandango VIP rewards program: a free DreamWorks Animation movie through the FandangoNow streaming service.

The Feb. 2 screenings, 20 days in advance of the Feb. 22 premiere date for the third and final installment in the “How to Train Your Dragon” movie franchise, is one of the earliest advance nationwide screening events for a major release.

“This is a coming together of things we’ve seen that work,” said Paul Yanover, president of Fandango. “It’s providing something special to people who are big users of Fandango.”

What was the rationale for setting the “How to Train Your Dragon 3” one-time screenings 20 days ahead of wide release? Yanover admitted there’s no hard data per se behind it. “I don’t think we have science around it yet,” he said but added that family-oriented movies lend themselves to the strategy: “Family audiences are big-time planners,” as opposed to, for example, millennials.

The “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” early screenings on Feb. 2 will run across 1,000 theaters in the U.S., including select AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, Cinemark Theatres, Marcus Theaters, Harkins Theatres, Southern Theatres, National Amusements, and B&B Theatres. There will be just one showing per theater on that date.

Tickets to the screening will carry regular pricing, with the free VOD streaming access to a DreamWorks Animation designed to lure in fans and build pre-release hype and awareness.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is directed by Dean DeBlois, who has directed and co-written every film in the franchise. In the movie, Viking teen Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III (voiced by Jay Baruchel) and Astrid (America Ferrera) — together with Toothless, the Night Fury dragon — discover a hidden world of dragons thought only to exist in myth. The movie is produced by Brad Lewis (“Ratatouille,” “ANTZ”) and Bonnie Arnold (“Toy Story,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2”).

As corporate siblings with Universal under the NBCU umbrella, Fandango is “naturally” frequently talking to Universal about such special partnerships, Yanover said, although he said the company regularly works with other studios in the same vein.

Fandango’s VIP program gives users a $5 credit for every four movie tickets purchased. Those credits can be used for future movie-ticket purchases or for digital-movie purchases and rentals on FandangoNow.

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