It seems we will be seeing Robert Downey Jr as Dr John Dolittle sooner than we expected. Although still two years away, the movie will premiere a month sooner than expected. Robert Downey Jr’s remake of Doctor Dolittle has reportedly moved up it’s release date in order to avoid competing with the ninth Star Wars film, which last week announced that it would be premiering the same weekend. Although Universal originally planned to debut the film on May 24, 2019, they have moved up the release date so that it will now be released April 12, 2019. Previously known as The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, the untitled film about the doctor who finds he can talk to animals confirmed Downey Jr.’s involvement last month, and is currently in pre-production.
The story of Doctor Dolittle first began as a 1920s children book series, written by Hugh Lofting, which included books such as The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, and Doctor Dolittle’s Circus. The character then came to life in the 1967 musical film Doctor Dolittle. Rex Harrison starred as the Dr. John Dolittle in this film, and although unpopular at the box office, the film won the Oscar for Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects. Then in 1998, Eddie Murphy starred in a comedy, directed by Betty Thomas, which yet again reimagined the iconic figure. Given Murphy’s comedic timing, the comedy was a success, and spawned four sequels: Dr. Dolittle 2, Dr. Dolittle 3, Tail to the Chief, and Million Dollar Mutts (of which the latter three went straight to home video).
Stephen Gaghan is set to direct the upcoming film, for which he also wrote the screenplay. An earlier draft of the script was written by Tom Shepherd. Robert Downey Jr.’s wife Susan Downey will produce, as well as Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum.
Gaghan is most well-known for winning an Oscar for writing Steven Soderbergh’s 2000 film Traffic, which featured an all-star cast includiing Salma Hayek, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dennis Quaid, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Douglas, James Brolin, Don Cheadle, and Viola Davis. Gaghan is also known for writing and directing 2005 film Syriana starring George Clooney, Viola Davis, Matt Damon and Christopher Plummer. Clooney won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Syriana.
Downey Jr. has a few producer roles ahead of him, but is also signed on to star as Geppetto in Ron Howard’s adaptation of Pinocchio. He is also signed on to portray Dr. John Brinkley, the man who in the 1920s and 30s gained national fame by claiming to be a doctor, in a Richard Linklater-directed biopic. You can see Downey Jr. next in Avengers: Infinity War and Spider-Man: Homecoming as the iconic Tony Stark/Iron Man.