7:38am PT by Pamela McClintock
Box Office: 'How to Train Your Dragon 3' Flies to Franchise-Best $55.5M Bow
The family offering How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World provided a much-needed boost of confidence to the struggling 2019 box office with a franchise-best launch of $55.5 million from 4,259 theaters in North America, the top opening of the year to date.
Overseas — where it opened early — the final title in the trilogy earned another $34.7 million from 53 markets for a rousing foreign total of $216.9 million and $274.9 million globally, including $2.5 million in previous U.S. sneaks.
It isn't often that a threequel paces ahead of its predecessors. The original pic opened to $43.7 million domestically in 2010, followed by How to Train Your Dragon 2 with $49.9 million in 2014, not adjusted for inflation.
Fueled by stellar reviews and an audience grade of A, The Hidden World came in well ahead of expectations. The CGI-animated threequel is the first DWA title released and marketed by Universal since it bought the company from Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Director-writer Dean DeBlois returned to helm the final installment of the Dragon trilogy, while the voice cast is led by Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson and F. Murray Abraham. The bittersweet story follows Hiccup as he tries to save the dragons from overpopulation by finding a new utopia-like home. Along the way, an evil warlord tries to kidnap Toothless, who is distracted by a new romance.
"It is a brilliant and satisfying conclusion to this beloved franchise," says Universal domestic distribution chief Jim Orr.
Alita: Battle Angel, from 20th Century Fox and producer James Cameron, followed at No. 2 with $12 million for a muted domestic total of $60.7 million after tumbling 58 percent in its sophomore outing.
Overseas, Alita scored a key win with a China debut of $62.3 million, the top showing ever for a Fox release. The film's total gross offshore was $94 million, enough to top the foreign weekend chart and pushing the international tally to $202.7 million. Yet despite a global cume of $263.4 million through Sunday, the cyberpunk adventure is still in danger of becoming the year's first big-budget miss after costing a net $170 million to produce before marketing.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part landed at No. 3 in its third weekend with another $10 million for a domestic total of $83.6 million. The sequel grossed $10.3 million overseas from 73 markets for a disappointing foreign cume of $53 million and $136.6 million globally.
The Dwayne Johnson-produced Fighting With My Family came in No. 4 with a solid $8 million. The niche offering, likewise earning an A CinemaScore, expanded into a total of 2,711 theaters after first opening last weekend in Los Angeles and New York. Combined with those grosses, the pic's early total stands at $8.2 million.
The WWE biographical drama, from MGM/United Artists, is based on the life and career of professional wrestler Paige (Florence Pugh).
"It’s a discovery movie," says United Artists domestic distribution chief Erik Lomis. "I think it will have a great multiple. It is being received well by people who aren't particularly wrestling fans."
New Line's Rebel Wilson comedy Isn't It Romantic rounded out the top five with another $7.5 million, a 47 percent decline, for a domestic tally of $33.8 million.
Tim Tebow's faith-based film Run the Race launched in 853 theaters to $2.2 million. The pic, from Roadside Attractions, came in No. 10.