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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World roars to top of box office with biggest debut of the year

It’s an animated weekend at the box office with Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World soaring to the top.

The latest in the animated franchise breathed fire its competition with an estimated opening weekend haul of $55.5 million in ticket sales at 4,259 theaters in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday. This marks the biggest debut of 2019 to date and also the highest opening for a How to Train Your Dragon film, beating both the first film’s 2010 opening of $43.7 million and the sequel’s $49.5 million 2014 debut.

After a soft opening last week, MGM’s Fighting With My Family expanded wide to take the fourth spot with an estimated $8 million across 2,711 theaters. The weekend’s other new release, Roadside Attraction’s Run the Race takes tenth place with an estimated total of $2.3 million across only 853 theaters.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World continues the Dreamworks animation franchise for the third and final entry in the trilogy. This conclusion follows young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his Night Fury dragon Toothless as they seek out the “Hidden World,” a secret dragon utopia home to other Night Furies. The team must find the secret world before hired tyrant Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham) does and uses it for nefarious purposes. Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, Cate Blanchett, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, and Kristen Wiig also lend their vocal talents to the film. Dean DeBlois continues his directing duties from the first two films.

The movie far exceeded box office expectations — it’s rare for the third film in a franchise to beat its predecessors so heftily. It also released internationally early, bringing its global total to an estimated $274. 9 million. The threequel is likely buoyed by glowing reviews and audience reaction seems favorable with a solid A CinemaScore.

MGM opened Fighting With My Family in only four theaters last weekend before expanding to 2,711 theaters for a wider release. It takes the fourth spot with an estimated $8 million haul, bringing its cumulative two weekend total to $8.2 million.

Former professional wrestler Dwayne Johnson produced this WWE comedy about a reformed gangster/wrestler Ricky Knight (Nick Frost) and his wife Julia (Lena Headey) who make their living performing with their children. Johnson makes an expansive cameo as himself, and the film also stars Jack Lowden, Florence Pugh, and Vince Vaughn. Stephen Merchant (Extras) writes and directs.

This weekend’s other new release, Run the Race, takes the tenth spot with a very solid estimated $2.3 million total across 853 theaters. Produced by former NFL player Tim Tebow, the sports drama follows two brothers, one who plays high school football and one who runs tracks, as they face rising tensions from their different world views. This story of brotherhood features Frances Fisher, Mykelti Williamson, Tanner Stine, Mario Van Peebles, Kristoffer Polaha, and Evan Hofer. Chris Dowling directed the faith-based film.

Holdovers rounded out the top five this weekend with sci-fi epic Alita: Battle Angel taking second place with an estimated $12 million total. That brings the Robert Rodriguez flick to a cumulative total of $60.7 million, which still falls far below its rumored $170 million production budget. It fell by nearly 60 percent in its second weekend, though it does have an A- CinemaScore, which suggests it could continue to limp towards recouping its budget with its cumulative global total an estimated $263.4 million.

In its third weekend, Lego Movie 2: The Second Part continues to stay in the top three, taking in an estimated $10 million for third place. That brings its total over three weekends to $83.6 million, which still falls far below the original 2014 film, which stayed atop the box office for three weekends in a row bringing in a total $188.3 million in that time.

Fifth place goes to Warner Bros. meta romantic comedy Isn’t It Romantic, which fell about 47% percent from its opening weekend. The Rebel Wilson led rom-com rounds out the top five with an estimated $7.5 million total, bringing its overall haul to $33.8 million. The film has earned middling reviews and a passable B CinemaScore from audiences.

Overall box office is down 24.8 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore, with cinemas lacking a sizable hit like last year’s record-breaking Black Panther. Though it is Oscars weekend, none of the Best Picture nominees, which were all released over the end of 2018, remain in the box office top ten. Check out the Feb. 22-24 numbers below.

1. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World— $55.5 million
2. Alita: Battle Angel — $12 million
3. Lego Movie 2: The Second Part— $10 million
4. Fighting With My Family— $8 million
5. Isn’t It Romantic— $7.5 million
6. What Men Want— $5.2 million
7. Happy Death Day 2U— $5 million
8. Cold Pursuit— $3.3 million
9. The Upside— $3.2 million
10. Run the Race — $2.3 million