After Robert Downey Jr. is done duking it out with Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, he will be taking a little break from the Iron Man suit in order to talk with animals in a new take on Dr. Dolittle. The A-list actor was recently announced as the star of Universal’s upcoming adaptation of The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, which is going to be arriving a little sooner than previously thought. The studio has officially set a release date for the new Dr. Dolittle movie, which will now arrive on April 12, 2019.
It was previously reported that Universal had set the currently untitled Dr. Dolittle movie for a May 24, 2019, release, but they decided to bump it out about six weeks, which may wind up being a smart movie. Robert Downey Jr. has a good amount of star power, but his offerings outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe haven’t been raking it in at the box office, so this is probably a smart decision. The release date move is almost certainly in response to Disney and Lucasfilm’s recent announcement that Star Wars: Episode IX will be arriving on May 24, 2019, and, let’s face it, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle is not match for Star Wars. Moviegoers will be getting plenty of Robert Downey Jr. in a short window, since Avengers 4 will be coming out less than a month later on May 3, 2019
Dr. Dolittle has been done plenty of times on the big screen before, but it has been a while since a truly great take on the material has happened. The first Dr. Dolittle movie from 1967, which starred Rex Harrison as the titular character, won two Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Special Effects, while also garnering a nomination for Best Picture. There was also the Eddie Murphy Doctor Dolittle movies which, while commercially successful, aren’t regarded in nearly the same light as the original movie. Murphy’s first Doctor Dolittle movie grossed $294.4 million worldwide and the sequel, though less successful, still brought in a solid $176.1 million. The next few entries went straight-to-video. So the franchise could definitely use a big name and a new direction.
In case you aren’t familiar, Dr. Dolittle is based on the books by author Hugh Lofting that center on a doctor who learns that he can talk to animals. The iconic book series started in 1920 with Doctor Dolittle, which was followed by The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle in 1922. This new Dr. Dolittle movie will reportedly be based on the second book, which won the Newbery Medal in 1923. Elements of the book were used for the 1967 adaptation, but it isn’t clear yet if this new version will be more of a direct adaptation or not.
Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan (Gold) is set to write and direct the new Dr. Dolittle movie for Universal, with Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum and Susan Downey set to produce. No other cast members have been announced for the movie as of yet, but with an early 2019 release date, production should be ramping up in the near future and we should be learning more in terms of who will be starring and specific plot details sooner rather than later. We will be sure to keep you up to date as more details on the project are made available.