Robert Downey Jr.’s Doctor Doolittle movie is facing a major overhaul, as the film underwent extensive reshoots. After three pushes of the release date, Universal is making sure the film lives up to its hype, and added additional shooting dates in hopes the doctor truly can cure all.
The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle follows unconventional physician Dr. John Dolittle, who discovers he can speak with animals. Based on a series of children’s books penned by Hugh Lofting, the character of Doctor Doolittle became an iconic name, with portrayals in film adaptations by actors Rex Harrison, Tim Curry and Eddie Murphy – who’s been declared the most popular Doolittle. Downey takes on the most recent version of the physician in Universal’s star-studded live-action film. The film boasts an astounding number of A-list talent for live-action and voiceover roles including, Rami Malek, Emma Thompson, Michael Sheen, Selena Gomez, Octavia Spencer, Antonio Banderas, John Cena, Marion Cotillard, and Tom Holland. The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle was penned and directed by Stephen Gaghan, whose previous works include Traffic, Havoc, and Syriana – films in a genre far from the family fun of a Doctor Dolittle story. Now, the audience is discovering why the titular doctor’s waiting room time has been so long.
According to Collider, when top producers Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, and Susan Downey viewed an early cut of the film, they found issues with the visual effects and comedic delivery. They decided a renovation needed to happen. Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) was brought on board to salvage the film with writing new material and overseeing the reshoots. McKay proved a decent fit with the flavor of the film, with his experience and irreverent comedy kinship with Downey. Unavailable for the additional 21 shooting days, McKay recommended Jonathan Liebesman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to take the reins on set. Gaghan stayed on as the sole director of the film, and heeded the CGI pearls of wisdom of the filmmakers brought on board. Hopefully, the film will now look and feel right for its fans.
The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle has been a huge undertaking since the beginning. The film is budgeted at $175 million – not including marketing and distribution costs. Originally, the film had a release date of May 2019 which changed to April 2019. Universal stated the film was being pushed back, yet again, to 2020 to avoid box office competition in April – which was likely to include Avengers: Endgame. Stalling the film’s release also allowed for the recent major reshoots. Doctor Dolittle isn’t the only film experiencing major changes. As of this writing, Disney’s Jungle Cruise and Sony’s Spider-Man: Far From Home are expected to undergo reshoots soon.
Most audience members aren’t aware of what goes on behind the scenes of filmmaking. However, when fans hear of a film undergoing major reshoots, they wait with bated breath at the film’s release to see if it was worth the extra time and effort. Hearing a film has gone back to the drawing board may cause more criticism and nitpicking of the film’s final project. However, the 2020 release date allows for fans of The Avengers and Star Wars to have a breather from blockbusters before checking in with the doctor. With the strong creative team and undeniable star power of The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, the film will no doubt reinvent the journey of Doctor Dolittle, and his conversations with his furry friends.