LOS ANGELES - "How to Train Your Dragon 2" will battle it out with another blockbuster sequel, "22 Jump Street," at the US box office this weekend, as the summer film season gets into full swing.
"Dragon" reunites the main characters from 2010's first film but adds a host of new colorful flame-breathing beasts in a 3D spectacular that DreamWorks Animation hopes will enthrall family filmgoers.
"Jump Street" meanwhile has Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum back together as an unlikely pair of undercover drug agents, two years after "21 Jump Street" brought the original TV series to the big screen.
While teens and older audiences could swarm to see the R-rated comedy from Friday night, it will be children and their parents flocking to watch the PG-rated "Dragon" over the weekend.
"'Jump Street' may win Friday, but 'Dragon 2' should carry the weekend, as it's the most anticipated animated film of the summer," said Jeff Bock of box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
The first "Dragon" instalment earned $495 million (S$618 million) and two Oscar nominations, and the 3D sequel was enthusiastically received at this year's Cannes Film Festival last month.
Variety said the new movie "breathes fresh fire into the franchise," adding: "And a good thing, too, since DWA desperately needs another toon to cross the half-billion-dollar threshold." The movie tells the story of Hiccup and Toothless, the young hero and his dragon sidekick from the first movie, after they discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and a mysterious Dragon Rider.
There are some surprises, not least because, unusually for a family movie, the hero lives in a one-parent family.