Robert Downey Jr. is taking on another iconic character in Doctor Dolittle, but it seems the movie needs some help to make it to the finishing line, and the studio is bringing in some reinforcements to make that happen. The film is being directed by Stephen Gaghan, but according to a new report by THR, Universal just finished up an extensive reshoot process on the film with the help of The LEGO Batman Movie's Chris McKay and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Jonathan Liebesman.
Evidently, the reshoot process encompassed 21 days of shooting and more for post-production work according to insiders. Gaghan was on set and was included in the process, though the film did get a bit of an overhaul by McKay. That process started after the studio and producers Susan Downey, Joe Roth, and Jeff Kirschenbaum realized the film wasn't going to work in its current state, a film that had already been budgeted at $175 million.
That's why it ended up pushing the release date from April 12th, 2019 to January 17th, 2020. This was Gaghan's first project that mixed heavy effects and comedy, and evidently, the first run didn't mesh those elements. That's when the studio brought in McKay, who is no stranger to comedy and visual effects, and after his cut of the film was written they brought in Liebesman to actually shoot the new footage since McKay was not available for the shoot.
“Gaghan needed help with the animal component of it all,” a source said. “These two guys who had expertise in that field, and they came in to help.”
Gaghan's previous work includes critically lauded dramas like Traffic and Syriana, so talking animals and a doctor who can hear them is a new avenue for the director. It seems though they've set up the film for its best chance at success with the reinforcements, and here's hoping it will deliver once the final cut hits theaters.
The film already has some big talent providing the various animal voices, including Selena Gomez, Antonio Banderas, Tom Holland, Kumail Nanjiani, John Cena, Rami Malek, Emma Thompson, Michael Sheen, Ralph Fiennes, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson, Marion Cotillard, Carmen Ejogo, and Frances de la Tour.
Doctor Dolittle was created in the 1920s as a Victorian-era physician who could speak to animals. The star of many children’s books, the story was then adapted for a musical film in 1967, and a series of family comedies in 1998 and 2001. Downey Jr. will be the third actor to star in the role, which was previously held by Rex Harrison (1967's Doctor Dolittle) and Eddie Murphy (1998's Doctor Dolittle and 2001's Dr. Dolittle 2). There was also a spin-off straight to home video film from that series called Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief, which hit in 2008.
The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle hits theaters on January 17th, 2020.
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