Robert Downey Jr.’s latest starring vehicle, Dolittle, is projected to bomb terribly during its opening weekend at the box office. For more than a decade, Downey has enjoyed plenty of commercial success thanks to his career-changing role as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not to mention, also headlining two Sherlock Holmes films). But, with Avengers: Endgame marking the end of Tony Stark’s journey, Downey is about to start a new era. Up first is the fantasy/adventure Dolittle, which sees the actor play the eccentric title character who can famously talk to animals.
While Dolittle is one of the first high-profile releases of 2020, it isn’t arriving with much fanfare. Reviews for the film are mostly negative, with many critics feeling it’s a generic family film that doesn’t do much to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately for Universal, it looks like Dolittle’s word-of-mouth is having an impact on the movie’s box office prospects and the year may already have its first prominent commercial bomb.
According to Box Office Pro, Dolittle is projected to earn just $16.9 million domestically in its first three days. That figure would be good enough for third place this weekend, behind action sequel Bad Boys for Life ($40 million) and Oscar frontrunner 1917 ($25 million).
Obviously, nobody expected Dolittle to post Marvel-esque numbers (even with Downey’s involvement), but this is still a disappointing development for Universal. Dolittle cost $175 million to produce, so the studio was at least somewhat confident it’d be able to draw in sizable crowds after the holiday season. Going by the general rule of thumb, Dolittle would need to gross at least $350 million worldwide just to break even, and that seems highly unlikely to happen. In addition to the lack of buzz surrounding Dolittle, it’s also facing competition from the Christmas holdovers and newcomer Bad Boys for Life. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s return to their fan-favorite franchise is scoring excellent reviews and is poised to be a hit.
Universal was probably hoping Dolittle could kickoff a new series and become Downey’s next trademark role, but the odds of that are slim. Fortunately for the studio, they do have surefire smash Fast and Furious 9 on the way in May to soften the blow a bit. Plus, Universal’s horror lineup this year (including The Invisible Man and Halloween Kills) should produce some highly profitable titles. Still, that doesn’t change the fact Dolittle was a highly questionable investment just in concept alone, and these box office projections all but confirm that. It looks like Downey will have to hang his hopes on Sherlock Holmes 3 to get some of his mojo back.
Source: Box Office Pro
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