‘Dragon’ Pulls in Fiery $43.3 Million
How to Train Your Dragon became a lesson in how to make an animated hit this weekend as the film coasted to the No. 1 spot at the box office.
But how will future, cheaper 3-D films fare?
Supplanting A-list stars with character actors and adding a layered script to its 3-D pyrotechnics, How to Train Your Dragon raked in $43.3 million, according to studio estimates.
The movie, featuring Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill, earned the strongest reviews of any wide-release film this year, garnering recommendations from 97 percent of the nation's critics, according to movie review site RottenTomatoes.com.
Dragon follows two other recent 3-D hits: James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar invaded screens in December and has gone on to earn $740.4 million in the USA. Tim Burton's 3-D fantasy adventure Alice in Wonderland was second this weekend with $17.3 million; it has earned $293.1 million since its release March 5.
According to Hollywood.com, 3-D films have been No. 1 at the box office for nine of the first 13 weeks this year. "I think you're seeing high-end filmmakers and studios bringing gravitas to the genre," says Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com. "This isn't the old 3-D of House of Wax."
Ironically, it could be those B-grade movies that could influence the future of 3-D, which is now available in about 46 percent of the nation's theaters.
Toy Story 3 and Shrek Forever After are expected to be 3-D blockbusters, but Dergarabedian says it will be movies like this year's Jackass and Piranha that will truly test the public's appetite for the plastic glasses.
"I'd like to see the industry try out some of the cheap, fun 3-D gimmicks that made it fun to begin with," he says. "It's one thing to produce blockbusters. But the test of the genre is to see if audiences like it in multiple formats, like cheap horror films."
Anne Globe of DreamWorks Animation, which released Dragon, says the studio has no intention of making quick 3-D films, or converting movies from 2-D to 3-D.
"We're committed to authoring 3-D movies from the beginning, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out" with low-budget 3-D films, she says. "I think we're seeing the evolution of the 3-D business."
Hot Tub Time Machine premiered at the low end of expectations with $13.7 million, followed by The Bounty Hunter with $12.4 million. Diary of a Wimpy Kid was fifth with $10 million.