Despite RDJ, Dolittle Is Failing At The Box Office: Did Bad Reviews Sink Kids' Movie?

Robert Downey Jr and animals on a ship in Dolittle, including Rami Malek as Chee Chee the Gorilla
(Image credit: (Universal))

Over the summer, Robert Downey Jr. snapped his fingers and Avengers: Endgame made $2.79 billion worldwide and became the highest-grossing movie of all time. But, now the Iron Man actor is looking at having his face on the first big-budget flop of 2020. Why is this happening? RDJ with cute talking animals should make studios money, right?

Initially, Dolittle was tracking to win MLK weekend with an estimated $40 million, with Bad Boys for Life close behind at $29 million. This time around predictions did not end up panning out. The long-awaited sequel to Bad Boys is looking at a record-breaking $70 million four-day haul with Oscar hopeful 1917 expected to take second place and Dolittle taking in just $31 million, per Box Office Mojo.

After an impressive $6.3 million on Friday, Bad Boys For Life is looking to have the second-largest performance for a movie during the January holiday weekend, behind Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. The Oscar winner made $105 million back in 2015. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence’s buddy cop movie would beat Ride Along’s $48.5 million. But, what happened with Dolittle?

The family-friendly adventure completely unimpressed critics – earning a 19% rotten score on RT. And folks, that’s behind Tom Hooper’s Cats. One percent but still. CATS. You know, the movie that had CGI modifications made to the movie after its release in theaters. Cats is looking at a $71 million loss after it’s big flop.

The Chicago-Sun Times called Dolittle the ”first serious serious contender for Wasted Opportunity of the Decade." On the other hand, audiences didn’t seem to hate it like critics did! The movie has a 76% audience score and B grade on CinemaScore. Not too shabby at all!

Dolittle is a massive movie with a reported production budget of $175 million. However, behind the curtain there’s been some bad buzz about the movie already. It’s release date was originally set for summer 2019 to an unconfident January release. Someone who allegedly worked on the movie called working on the movie “production hell."

But, then again, most people buying a ticket to the movies over the weekend probably weren’t going into it with this knowledge. Could have the bad reviews deterred them? Perhaps with such low reviews, it seemed like the right time to save up their movie ticket money for another experience down the line.

On the other hand, this weekend looks to be a huge win for Bad Boys For Life! The action movie is getting great reviews from critics and audiences alike. Word is a fourth Bad Boys movie is reportedly already in the works too! And, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is still plummeting in numbers as it reaches its fifth weekend at the box office.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.