Yesterday, as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, author Cressida Cowell conducted a Q&A to promote the latest instalment of her How To Train Your Dragon series of books. Following a special screening of DreamWorks’ superb adaptation, however, talk inevitably turned to the future of the cinematic sister series.
As DreamWorks’ second most successful property, after the Shrek series, How To Train Your Dragon is itself being given the full franchise treatment, with a second and third film in production simultaneously, and a television series set to bridge the first two films. As yet untitled, the two films are due for release in 2014 and 2016 respectively. But we know this.
As she described the bidding war over the rights (one television bid in particular would have seen the dragons played by dogs in prosthesis), identified her favourite characters (Hiccup and Stoic being the most faithfully recreated onscreen), and explained her lack of a screenwriter credit on the adaptation itself (she didn’t want to confuse the two very different takes on the same story), she also revealed that the books’ endgame will be shared by the trilogy of films.
The story of one boy’s relationship with his father as Vikings and dragons try to live together in harmony, the film franchise will take it’s own path towards the preordained conclusion, as the newly amiable relations between both camps are eventually tested. In fact, the primary reason behind the liberties taken by the first film with the source material – which themselves didn’t manifest until the fifth year of production – was that DreamWorks knew they would have to condense the full complement of 12 books, and didn’t want to wait six instalments to finally get Hiccup into the air. Not when the first film alone took approximately seven years to make, and the flight scenes looked so darn lovely in 3D.
As if the prospect of two more films set in Cowell’s world wasn’t enticing enough, the news that DreamWorks will be reuniting both cast and crew – and, importantly, this includes composer John Powell – with a definite conclusion in sight indicates that the studio’s plans go further than merely turning a profit. If, however, you simply cannot wait until 2014 for another trip to Berk, you can relax in the knowledge that the television series is due to air in October. Having just shown the first episode to her son that morning, Cressida Cowell’s own approval is more than enough for me.