Prior to the release of Dolittle, CinemaBlend’s own Sarah El-Mahmoud asked the question of whether or not Robert Downey Jr.’s popularity would be enough to overcome the film’s bad buzz. We now know the answer to that question and it is not a happy one for Stephen Gaghan’s film. Dolittle flopped in a major way in its opening weekend, and following that disappointing debut we have an idea of how much the film stands to lose.
Over the four-day holiday weekend, Dolittle came in second place (might drop to third behind 1917 when it's all counted) at the box office with a total of $30.6 million domestic. The film added around another $20 million to that internationally for a global bow of $50 million. That might not seem terrible if Dolittle were a smaller film, but the production budget on the special effects-laden movie is a reported $175 million. Now Dolittle is projected to lose $100 million, according to The Wrap.
That would be a massive loss for the family film, as you don’t see a ton of movies suffering losses in the nine-figure range. Unfortunately, Dolittle’s potentially painful punch to the purse of Universal Pictures comes on the heels of another misfire at the box office. Just last month Universal’s Cats adaptation failed to land on its feet at the box office and is estimated to lose $70 million.
The $90-$95 million budget of Cats looks like a bargain, though, compared to Dolittle’s $175 million and that’s why the guy who can talk to animals may find himself owing far more money than the talking cats. So no, the popularity of Avengers: Endgame star Robert Downey Jr. was not enough to overcome bad buzz or a bad movie. However, there is still a path for Dolittle to avoid that ignominious fate.
Dolittle debuted domestically this past weekend and in some international markets, but other territories still remain and it is on them the film’s hopes now hinge. The Robert Downey Jr. film has yet to release in over 20 markets, including majors like the United Kingdom, France, Japan, and China. Dolittle hits China this week and arrives in the UK and France in early February.
There is a possibility that, despite Dolittle’s domestic flop, those international markets could still help the film get close to breaking even. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen the different tastes of overseas audiences help a domestic flop find eventual financial success. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil suffered some seriously diminished returns compared to its predecessor domestically, but thanks to a solid performance internationally, the film still managed to make it into the black.
But those hypotheticals are just that, and as of right now Dolittle stands to lose a lot of money. This performance was far from surprising, though, as that bad buzz could be spotted from a mile away. But whereas Bad Boys For Life proved to be a pleasant surprise both critically and commercially, the worst fears about Dolittle proved true for many.
Dolittle has been lambasted by critics and even the more forgiving audiences haven’t been particularly generous, giving the film a mediocre B CinemaScore. And a loss at the box office isn’t the only unfortunate parallel between Cats and Dolittle. Like Cats, which became the subject of gleeful criticism and online ridicule, Dolittle is also providing plenty of fodder for jokes, including one scene in particular.
Dolittle is now playing. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of all this year’s biggest movies.