The big-budget DOA pic will not recover from its dismal debut over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
Dolittle was a passion project for Mr Downey in the post-Iron Man era is the first big-budget miss of Y 2020 and stands to lose tens of millions for Universal, and it dashes hopes of launching a new chapter in the tale of a man who can converse with animals.
It is unclear exactly exactly how much Dolittle will lose for Universal, which is still licking its wounds after Cats, another VFX-laden film with talking animals.
Dolittle has yet to open in many major foreign territories and in North America faces little competition in the family marketplace until Sonic the Hedgehog opens in a month. But recovery will be tough, based on audience reaction and scathing reviews.
“It seems like they couldn’t decide whether it was an adventure film or a comedy. It was a waste of Downey’s talents,” says Wall Street analyst Eric Handler of MKM partners.
Dolittle garnered a B CinemaScore from moviegoers and a definite recommend score of just 42% among general audiences, according to those with access to PostTrak, a real-time exit polling service.
In terms of parents, only 51% said they would recommend seeing Dolittle, according to PostTrak. Kids were only slightly better with a 52% “must see right away” rating.
Overseas, Dolittle has grossed $30.3-M from its 1st 42 markets, the majority of them smaller.
Team Downey, the company run by Downey and his wife, Susan and veteran Hollywood producer Joe Roth put together the Dolittle package, and shopped it to various Hollywood studios. Universal bit, despite the fact that director Stephen Gaghan had no experience with big-budget, VFX movies.
After poor test screenings, Universal ordered a reworking of parts of the story and reshoots, including injecting more comedic moments. The studio subsequently pushed the movie from a high-profile Y 2019 summer release to the January corridor.
Doctor Dolittle, the Y 1967 big-screen adaptation of Hugh Loftings’ book that starred Rex Harrison, was notorious for going over budget and almost bankrupting 20th Century Fox.
Have some fun see a movie this week.