For the second time, Hollywood is rebooting Doctor Dolittle with one of its biggest stars of the moment. First it was Eddie Murphy in the 1990s, and now it’s Robert Downey Jr.
Universal Pictures just won a bidding war for a new project called The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, with Downey attached to play the lead and Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan planning to direct from his own script. The film is an adaptation of the near century-old book series by Hugh Lofting about a doctor who can speak to animals.
Hollywood first adapted the property in 1967 as a musical with Rex Harrison in the lead, then in 1998 and 2001 with Murphy. This version is aiming to shoot next year after Downey is done shooting Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled sequel.
According to multiple reports, several studios were in the mix to acquire this project but there’s no word on what makes it special, other than the obvious: Downey is a huge name and a family-themed film with him in the lead certainly has financial potential. However, while both the Harrison and Murphy films were successful in their own ways, you have to imagine that with Gaghan at the helm (he previously wrote Traffic and Syriana), there’s something more to the story than just a simple adventure where a guy can talk to animals. Or, at least we hope so.
The bidding also happened over a weekend when another big-budget remake, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, made almost $400 million worldwide, so the chance to make a similar star-backed film was certainly something people were interested in. A 2018 shoot would likely mean a 2019 release, but that’s just speculative. Downey will next be seen in July’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.