By Rebecca Rubin | Variety.com
LOS ANGELES — After the North American box office has struggled to match 2018’s record year, Universal and DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” is breathing some life into domestic receipts.
The final chapter in the animated trilogy generated $55.5 million when it launched in 4,259 theaters, a franchise-best debut. It also holds the distinction as the biggest opening weekend of the year to date.
Along with early Fandango screenings, the threequel has brought in $58 million at the domestic box office, and the animated adventure isn’t just soaring in North America. Propelled by glowing word of mouth, “The Hidden World” has dominated the international box office, swooping up $275 million since beginning its international rollout in January. It launches in China on March 1.
Directed by Dean DeBlois and starring Jay Baruchel and America Ferrera, “How to Train Your Dragon 3” is the first installment to be released by Universal since its parent company purchased DreamWorks Animation. The first film, “How to Train Your Dragon” (distributed by Paramount) opened at the domestic box office with $43.7 million, while its sequel “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (released by Fox) debuted with $49.4 million. Together, the two grossed over $1 billion globally.
For the most part, studios largely sat out this weekend as Hollywood geared up for the entertainment industry’s biggest night. In lands away from a dragon utopia, a number of holdovers rounded out domestic box office charts.
Last weekend’s champion, Fox’s “Alita: Battle Angel,” dropped to second place, adding another $12 million for a domestic haul of $60 million.
Third place went to Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.” The animated sequel pocketed $10 million in its third weekend of release, taking its North American tally to $83 million.
Dwayne Johnson’s WWE drama “Fighting With My Family” nabbed the No. 4 slot when it expanded to 2,500 screens, earning $8 million. It opened in limited release last weekend, where it amassed $196,000.
Rounding out the top five is Warner Bros.’ “Isn’t It Romantic.” The satirical rom-com picked up $7.5 million, bringing its Stateside bounty to $33.7 million.