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The center of Westwood became the Isle of Berk — and was visited by Toothless the dragon — Sunday at the Los Angeles premiere of DreamWorks Animation’s highly anticipated How to Train Your Dragon 2.
“It’s incredible to finally be here,” writer and director Dean DeBlois told The Hollywood Reporter. “When times get tough and you’re in the middle of making the movie, you sort of mentally take a journey to the red carpet premiere and imagine it all being done. I don’t think there could be a happier moment for the whole crew — for all 400 people — to be here and have the film feel this uncompromised and hopefully as fresh and emotional and exciting as we wanted it to be.”
Deblois, DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and producer Bonnie Arnold were joined on the red carpet by composer John Powell and voice castmembers, including Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson and Djimon Hounsou.
With the success of the original How to Train Your Dragon and shows such as Game of Thrones, director Dean DeBlois said the mythical creatures are becoming the newest craze.
“It’s building up again,” DeBlois told THR. “We turned them into big pets. We channeled a lot of cat and dog behavior and I think that adds to the wish fulfillment that you can have one of your own.”
Contrary to Ferrera’s wardrobe malfunction at Cannes, she arrived this time with her dress free of any red carpet lurkers hiding underneath. She said Harrington was the only other cast member she actually recorded scenes with and had no idea he was already familiar with acting with dragons.
“I didn’t know who Kit Harington was because I hadn’t seen Game of Thrones at that time so I was convinced that we had discovered the next new talent, and then shortly I was told that he was already on an enormous show,” laughed Ferrera.
The actress also gave her advice on how exactly you should train a dragon: “With a lot of slimy dead fish and lots of love.”
Honsou told THR that voicing the villainous dragon-trapper Bludvist even helped him to understand something about his own personality.
“We all have a bit of a bad in us that’s just waiting for the opportunity to come out,” said Honsou.
Inside the Regency Village Theater, the Viking epic was met with enthusiastic cheers, both during key moments in the film and at its conclusion.
The first film in the franchise based on the books by Cressida Cowell — which also was directed by DeBlois, along with Chris Sanders, who was an exec producer on this sequel — set a high creative bar and grossed $495 million worldwide. Many also felt it would have clinched the Oscar for best animated feature had it not come out the same year as Pixar’s Toy Story 3. Oscar buzz surrounding How to Train Your Dragon 2 has already started.
The sequel follows Hiccup and his dragon Toothless as they battle to save the rest of the dragons on the isle of Berk from villain Drago Bludvist. The adventure not only tests the loyalty between dragons and their riders but between Hiccup and his tribe whom he is hesitant to lead in his father’s place.
For the first film, DeBlois and Sanders joined 14 months into the project. DeBlois said for the sequel, he made it a point to take six months “just to write a couple drafts to get some of the big problems out of the way. And then when we began [animation], it always felt as though we knew the movie we were making even though we made adjustments along the way. I think it really helped.”
Deblois added that he’s currently working on the storyline for the third installment of the franchise. Composer John Powell will not, however, join for the third-act since he will be taking a sabbatical to relax and spend more time with his teenager.
“This will be the culmination,” said DeBlois. “This will be the fulfillment of Hiccup’s coming of age but also it will set up a disappearance of dragons and why they’re not here anymore. All of that will be answered in kind of a mysterious, emotional and hopefully a really inspirational way.”
How to Train Your Dragon 2 hits theaters June 13.
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