Robert Downey Jr.’s inexplicable passion project, Dolittle, comes out in two weeks. A new trailer arrived on New Year’s day to celebrate(?) this fact, and this time, it actually shows us RDJ as the man who talks to animals. The first trailer barely showed RDJ, but someone must have resigned themselves to his ridiculous Welsh(??) accent, because he is fully present, fully talking, and fully sounding very silly. I’ve never heard a Welsh person sound like this. People of Wales, weigh in: How is RDJ’s accent? Silly? Or very silly?
Dolittle opens in January, with a reported budget of $175 million which is a lot of money for a movie opening this month – and not a good sign. Dolittle also comes with tales of director drama, overspending, and expensive reshoots—and don’t forget the director, Stephan Gaghan, has a majestic racist dog that terrorized production staff. There is A Lot happening with this movie. But one more thing to keep in mind is that this comes out one month after Cats. And while Dolittle does not look as outright awful as Cats—although, honestly, after Cats I’m not sure I can tell what is “good” and “bad” anymore, as Cats has broken my meter for “bad”— Dolittle does come from the same studio, Universal.
Universal is taking a bath thanks to Cats. They publicly admit to a $95 million budget—which is ludicrous as it has superhero movie-level effects, and those movies cost three times that much—and based on that number, are expected to lose up to $100 million (it is easily very much more than that because that budget is a ludicrous lie). And now, just a few weeks later, they might be facing another expensive flop. Dolittle is projected to open with as much as $55 million. Watch this trailer and ask yourself if this looks like a movie $55 million worth of people will go out and see, and keep in mind it opens against Bad Boys For Life and you KNOW some parents WILL drag their kids to that.
A $55 million opening weekend strikes me as very optimistic. There is zero nostalgia for Doctor Dolittle amongst today’s children, and the story is not as broadly known as Alice in Wonderland. Despite trying to look like a Disney movie, Dolittle does not actually have the brand support of Disney and the audiences who turn out for their movies no matter how boring or bad they look. RDJ is certainly riding a wave of public affection after wrapping up his run as Tony Stark, but Marvel fans aren’t exactly going to line up for a kiddie adventure flick. Considering all of this, do you think Dolittle can manage a decent opening weekend? Or is this Cats 2.0?