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INTERVIEW: Producer Bonnie Arnold Talks “Dragon 2”

INTERVIEW: Producer Bonnie Arnold Talks "Dragon 2"

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is the highest grossing animated film of 2014, making $615M worldwide. I spoke with Producer Bonnie Arnold about the film, which comes out on Blu-ray/DVD on Nov. 11 and is a solid contender for honors and statues this awards season.

What were some of the most important decisions you and the other filmmakers had to make for “Dragon 2”?

One of the things that director/writer Dean DeBlois wanted to accomplish was the aging-up of the characters. His story involved Hiccup and Toothless five years later into their relationship. The technical challenge was aging them up five years, which, as far as I know, has never been done in animation before. And we had a whole new software package which the studio had been developing for quite awhile. We saw that as a great tool for us to use and enable us to do things that we couldn’t do on the first film, while also matching what Dean was trying to do storytelling wise. There’s this great shot in the movie when Drago attacks Valka’s fortress and there are hundreds of thousands of extras on the beach, and all the dragons. Without this new software we never could have accomplished that.

What was it like to have Cate Blanchett join the voice cast?

Cate was great. Dean wrote the part for her. He actually went up to her at the Academy Awards when we were nominated for “Dragon 1” and told he that he was writing this part for her. He accosted her right there in the hallway and she said she was very interested, that her and her boys were big fans of the movie. She definitely brought a lot to the part. Valka’s not a conventional mother, but you quickly understand who she is and how Hiccup is a lot like her.

One of the things I enjoyed about “Dragon 2” is that the tone is often serious and sometimes pretty dark.

I think it has a good story to tell. Dean wanted to challenge the Hiccup/Toothless relationship. At the end of the first movie they had it all. “Dragon 2” goes to some interesting places, but in the end it feels very satisfying and rewarding.
“Dragon 3” has been announced for 2017. What can you tell us?

When Dean pitched the studio the idea of doing a sequel, he said he’d only do it if he could do a trilogy, the complete story of the coming of age of Hiccup and Toothless. He pitched an outline which covered movie 2 and movie 3, and he’s been refining that outline, based on how movie 2 turned out. He’s just getting started on a script. We’ve very excited about it and hope to begin production right after the first of the year.

Awards Season is here. How much campaigning will you be doing for the film?

I would love for the movie to be recognized in some way. That’s what you hope for. I’m proud of everyone who worked so hard to bring the movie to the screen. We have great competition. There are some other really good films in the animation category. Part of our job is to remind people about the film – since it came out way back in June. We can only hope and keep our fingers crossed that we’ll get some kudos for the movie. 

Anybody in mind that you and Dean can accost at this year’s Academy Awards to join the cast for “Dragon 3”?

That’s a good question, but I haven’t read the script yet! Will it be a male or female character? Is it a good guy or a bad guy? So much of it will depend on the script. Maybe by the time the Academy Awards come around at the end of February I’ll have a better idea.

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