It was a rough summer at the box office, with the industry trailing 2013’s record-breaking season by nearly 15 percent and selling the fewest tickets in more than 20 years. There were winners and losers, pleasant surprises and stinkers, but as the analysts push films in one column or the other, what to make of How to Train Your Dragon 2? It’s the year’s second-biggest animated hit (behind The LEGO Movie) and a likely Oscar nominee for Best Animated Film. And yet DreamWorks Animation sequel, distributed by 20th Century Fox, is the rare critical success to gross $172 million and feel like a disappointment. What else to call a sequel that makes $45 million less than its predecessor and $196 million less than last summer’s top animated film, Despicable Me 2?
And yet. How to Train Your Dragon 2, written off in July for its underwhelming box-office in the U.S., is now an enormous international blockbuster, with upwards of $413 million and counting. By the time its international run is complete, Dragons 2 might double the foreign take of the franchise’s original film ($277 million). Hiccup’s second cinematic adventure, which reunites him with his long-lost mother (voiced by Cate Blanchett) and pits the dragon-riding Vikings against a power-mad dragon slaver named Drago Bludvist, will ultimately rake in more than $600 million globally, dwarfing the overall take of the first film—no matter if it’s in more Chinese renminbis, Russian rubles, and British pounds than American dollars. So which is Dragon 2, an unqualified success or a curious underachiever? And what to make of the drastically different receptions from American and foreign audiences? READ FULL STORY