An ensemble adventure starring Robert Downey Jr. as its leading animal aficionado, “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle” has had its departure delayed by nine months.
Universal Pictures has given “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle” a third debut date.
Based on the lengthy 1922 Hugo Lofting novel in which Doctor Dolittle and his young friend Tommy set off in search of a lost scientist, “The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle” has assembled an enviable cast but so far struggled to hold fast to its projected release schedule.
If third time’s the charm, “Dolittle” will arrive in theaters on January 17, 2020, after avoiding a face-off against “Star Wars: Episode IX” — at one time expected in May 2019 before its own reshuffle — and then an April 2019 squeeze between superhero movie “Shazam!” and a Shaun the Sheep adventure on the one side, and animated creature comedy “Missing Link” on the other.
That January 2020 date also coincides with the USA’s Martin Luther King weekend, usually associated with bumper theatrical attendances and attractive box office takings.
It’s a slot previously occupied by the likes of “Ride Along” (2014) and its 2016 sequel, “American Sniper” (2015), and “Kung Fu Panda 3” (2016).
December 2017’s runaway “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” then went the distance, receiving a noticeable bump in January 2018, though Universal will no doubt be aware that its sequel is due in December 2019 and, if received in a similar manner, could impinge on the “Dolittle” fortunes.
Also involved with the film project are Antonio Banderas, Jim Broadbent and Michael Sheen in live action roles, with Marion Cotillard, John Cena, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek, Carmen Ejogo and Emma Thompson among the production’s expansive voice cast.