Amid the haute couture dresses, borrowed diamonds, red carpet interviews and an air conditioning system that seemed to be on the fritz, the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards all but confirmed the arrival of animation as a serious cinematic art form.

DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 took home the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, rising above an unusually competitive field that included Big Hero 6The Book of LifeThe Boxtrolls, and The LEGO Movie.

Making History

The win was the studio’s first-ever in this category after six previous nominations since the Hollywood Foreign Press Association first started giving out animation awards. The Golden Globes have been around since 1944, but the specific category for animated feature films was created only in 2006.

This year’s Golden Globes marked the second consecutive year that a Pixar Animation production was not in the running. Pixar took home the hardware for the first five years of the category’s existence, between 2006 and 2010, when, in order, CarsRatatouilleWALL-EUp, and Toy Story 3 all topped the podium. Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin broke Pixar’s dominance in 2011 before the studio that Steve Jobs built won for Brave in 2012.

Where’s Pixar?

Pixar has been completely out of the running for the past two years, a result of a significant shift in scheduling for its next two releases. The Good Dinosaur, originally set for release last May, was fundamentally refocused last summer amid major layoffs at Pixar. In an almost unheard-of turn of events for the storied studio, director Bob Peterson was taken off the project, all voice work to-date was re-recorded, and the project’s release date was pushed to November 2015.

Inside Out, which chronicles the story of the emotions who live inside the head of an 11-year-old girl, hits theatres this June. The one-two Pixar punch sets Pixar up for an active awards season in 2016, but for now it’s up to parent company Disney to carry the torch.

A Canadian Connection

How to Train Your Dragon 2 was directed by Quebec-born Dean DeBlois, who told CBC Radio in an interview that he was “genuinely shocked” when the winner was announced.

“Every award pundit had The LEGO Movie winning,” he said.

DeBlois, who also wrote the script, hails from Aylmer, Quebec, and made a name for himself in the 1980s on homegrown Canadian productions including The Racoons, a CBC animation series. He later joined Walt Disney Feature Animation as a storyboard artist, where his credits included Mulan and Lilo & Stitch (2002). He co-wrote and co-directed How to Train Your Dragon in 2010 for DreamWorks before assuming both roles, solo, for the sequel.

Dragon 2’s win marks a vindication of sorts, as the first film lost out to Toy Story 3 in 2011. Doubtless the movie’s box office performance – it’s grossed over $618 million U.S. worldwide so far on a production budget of $145 million – means additions to the already-scheduled third entry to the franchise are all but guaranteed.

And Then There Were 3

After the first film topped the box office, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg confirmed that the series would include a third entry. DeBlois was named both director and co-executive producer along with Chris Sanders.

The project has had its release date shuffled somewhat since then, however. In 2012, the original target of June 18, 2016 was slightly adjusted to June 17, 2016. Last September, the studio delayed it until June 9, 2017. While no reason for the move was provided at the time, DeBlois called it a normal process, and explained, “It’s just that these movies take three years. I think it was a little ambitious to say 2016. As is normally the case, they kind of throw darts out into the future and wherever they land they call that a release date until we start talking about it in practical terms, and then it’s like, ‘Uh yeah that’s not enough time.’”

Whenever it bows, expect fans to line up at theatres again, and expect it to once again compete for awards season hardware. Dragons, it seems, enjoy the red carpet.


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