A hard beginning, so the saying goes, maketh a good ending. When How to Train Your Dragon was released by DreamWorks Animation nine years ago, audiences were charmed and moved by the movie’s message of how patience, dedication and painstaking work pays off. That was illustrated by the unlikely bond between gangly 15-year-old Viking boy, Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel), and a sleek, black, last-of-his-kind dragon, Toothless the Night Fury, as they became best friends and quelled the misconceptions of Hiccup’s elders, who were long determined to slay the dragon.
The adventures of Hiccup and Toothless continued in 2014’s hit sequel, which introduced Hiccup’s mother (Cate Blanchett). Now the franchise comes to a close with the visually sumptuous, emotionally powerful third film, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (in theaters Feb. 22), which finds a matured, twentysomething Hiccup confronted by two unexpected arrivals in his life that will alter everything: Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), who plans to destroy the Vikings’ island home of Berk, and a white dragon named Light Fury, the last female of her kind, a potential mate for Toothless.
So far, the first and second Dragon films stand as one of the most successful animated franchises of all time, with more than a billion dollars in worldwide grosses and twin Oscar nominations for Best Animated Film. As the story reaches its rousing conclusion, it’s not a spoiler to say that the “Hidden World” of the title is fully, gloriously revealed. (More on that later.) After the trilogy’s 12-year production life, this final film marks a journey’s end for the team of artists and engineers who brought the movies to life — as well as a testament to the collaboration between DreamWorks Animation and HP, a partnership which began in 2001. Through that long relationship, an extraordinary span in innovation can be charted.
“The amount of technology required to make these films is simply staggering,” says Kate Swanborg, DreamWorks Animation's SVP of technology communications and strategic alliances. “We understood early in DreamWorks Animation’s history that if we found an equally world-class partner in the ecosystem, we would be able to accelerate our own ambitions.”