Hugh Lofting's series of children books on the loveable animal doctor has spawned a number of big screen installments. Now audiences will be treated to a fresh rendition, as Robert Downey Jr. has scored the lead on the upcoming adventure title The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle.
The film from Universal Studios will be directed by Gold and Syriana filmmaker Stephen Gaghan. Leaving the 51-year old with the task of reimagining the beloved character prior to it's release date. A time that has not yet been made public. Universal would eventually come out on top of a bidding war after the intellectual property was put up for sale. And the studio would waste no time securing their new front man and a director to boot.
Mixed Success For Dolittle In Cinema
20th Century Fox's 1967 version might have been nominated for Best Picture at that year's version of the Academy Awards, but the musical interpretation flattered to deceive with critics. Going on to only manage a box office taking of $9m from their $17m investment. Fast forward to 1998 and Eddie Murphy's adaption proved far more popular, recording $294.4m from their $70m outlay.
That Doctor Dolittle began a number of sequels. But the last three via Dr. Dolittle 3, Tail to the Chief and Million Dollar Mutts went direct-to-video. Murphy would abandon the franchise following 2001's Dr. Dolittle 2, a movie that only garnered $176.1m to illustrate how difficult it is to create a successful comedy sequel.
Director and Star Venturing Outside Comfort Zone
Downey Jr. cannot be accused of playing it safe. Especially when it came to his off camera shenanigans that landed him in hot water. Yet the highest paid actor in the world has rarely ventured outside the persona he has mastered in the MCU, playing the cocky brash billionaire Tony Stark to a tea in the Iron Man and Avengers series.
The 51-year old New York City native made an earnest effort in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes reboot while exploring something different for the dramas Chef and The Judge alongside Robert Duvall. Since making his debut in the Marvel blockbuster series that has lined his pockets for the past 9 years however, 10 of the actor's 18 most recent portrayals will have been revolved around the head of Stark Industries once Avengers 4 hits theaters.
Attempting his luck at a children's comedy will also be Gaghan, a man most synonymous with winning an Oscar for his writing on Traffic. That makes The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle a change of pace for all concerned.