Dolittle is Robert Downey Jr.'s first movie after Avengers: Endgame. It's his first film role as anyone but Tony Stark since The Judge came out in 2014. RDJ is one of the most popular actors on the planet, and you have to imagine he's a big draw for any film. It's hard to judge his box office appeal vs. Marvel Cinematic Universe appeal, but perhaps his role as Dr. Dolittle will be the test?
Dolittle opens January 17, 2020 over the holiday weekend leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. How much money will it make in its opening weekend? There are a lot of factors to consider, but one site has thrown down the gauntlet with a prediction.
Box Office Pro estimates Dolittle will have a domestic opening weekend between $30-$50 million, settling right in the middle for a forecast of $40 million. The site predicted the domestic total to end around $120-$170M. Hopefully the international markets enjoy the film to boost whatever it gets here because, based on the budget, it's going to need to make a lot more than that to break even.
According to THR, Dolittle had a production budget around $175 million, and that wouldn't include marketing costs. THR noted that Universal sent the film back for major reshoots, filming 21 days of additional photography, not including added post-production work. The film was delayed from April 2019 to the new release date in January 2020.
Dolittle is a family film, and it seems to be aimed at kids. That said, Robert Downey Jr. will probably bring in plenty of adults, and the many A-list voice stars -- including Spider-Man star Tom Holland -- will surely bring in fans of their own. Kids' films are often critic-proof and immune to the kind of troubling behind-the-scenes buzz of a movie like Dolittle. But if more adults are going to show up, Dolittle will at least need solid word-of-mouth.
Then again, consider Eddie Murphy's Dr. Dolittle movie. Is it a fair comparison? His 1998 comedy was reportedly made on a production budget just over $70 million and made nearly $300 million worldwide. That's after getting pretty lousy reviews from both critics and fans -- 43% from 51 RT critics and 34% from 873,729 users. Dr. Dolittle, directed by Betty Thomas, ended up launching a franchise with four sequels.
I don't know if The Powers That Be could handle the idea of making another major Dolittle movie after all the work put into the 2020 film, directed by Stephen Gaghan. But you never know. Robert Downey Jr.'s charm is pretty undeniable.
The only other major movie opening January 17 is Bad Boys for Life, and that seems to be aiming for a more adult audience than Dolittle. By mid-January, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Jumanji: The Next Level will still be in theaters, but not at full strength. Otherwise, I'm not seeing anything in the 2020 calendar that poses a major threat to Dolittle ... besides maybe itself if the film turns out to be a miss.
Are you planning to see Dolittle? If so, opening weekend, a bit later in theaters, or maybe you'll wait until it shows up on one of the 9 million streaming services? A Universal film would go to Peacock, I suppose, right?