Actor W.C. Fields once famously said “Never work with children or animals,” and there is no better example of this fact than the original 1967 Doctor Dolittle, which starred Rex Harrison. This movie is considered one of the largest cinematic disasters of all time and it almost bankrupted 20th Century Fox. The film had over 1,000 animal actors that were constantly causing problems for production like squirrels that chewed through scenery, animals often bit the actors, and allegedly there was an incident in which a giraffe stepped on its own genitals. The movie took years to complete, it was grossly over budget, and a ton of tie in merchandise had been produced which the studio lost money on. When the movie was finally released it was brutalized by critics and ended up being a major box office bomb, though it did earn a couple of Oscars.
Unfortunately for 20th Century Fox it seems like history is starting to repeat itself with their upcoming film, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle. Just like its 1967 predecessor the studios have a lot of money riding on The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, and this movie has hit production snags of its own. The release date for the movie has been changed several times according to Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, and now the movie is set for a 2020 release date. It has also been reported by Screen Rant that The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle is undergoing some major reshoots. Apparently Stephen Gagan was originally hired to direct The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, however when producers Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, and Susan Downey saw an early cut of the film they were unhappy with it. Chris McKay and Jonathan Liebesman were hired to help fix the movie.
Like the 1967 Rex Harrison movie mentioned above and the 1998 Eddie Murphy movie, this new film is based on Hugh Lofting’s 1920’s book series which tell the story of Dr. John Dolittle, a misanthropic doctor with the ability to talk to animals. Robert Downey Jr. plays the titular character. Other cast members include Selena Gomez, Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, John Cena, Rami Malek, Craig Robinson, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour and Carmen Ejogo.
It may seem strange that a studio would put so much money into a remake of something that flopped the first time, but never has Hollywood been predictable.