That iconic kids movie franchise you like is coming back in style. The franchise, in this case, is Doctor Dolittle, and it's coming back in style because A+-list star Robert Downey, Jr. will be reportedly joining in the title role. The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle went to Universal Pictures at auction on the heels of a record-breaking weekend for Beauty and the Beast.
If you're wondering why Downey, Jr. would appear in another franchise after being the face of both the Avengers and Guy Ritchie's Sherlock, here's Deadline.
"Most studios don’t play in the first-dollar gross sandbox anymore, but I’ve heard this was the exception, a throwback auction where the ask was a first-dollar gross outlay around 25% on a film that will carry an event-film budget possibly north of $160 million."
To put this in human terms: Downey, Jr. will receive 25% of every dollar that the film earns, starting with the first dollar. That means that he doesn't wait for a recoup of production costs, marketing costs, or indeed anything else. Traditionally, this hasn't lately been afforded to actors or directors unless they play a major role in securing financing for a movie. (A big self-bet is why Hangover director Todd Phillips is currently sitting on a Scrooge McDuck-level of earning for those films.) So the best explanation is that Universal feels that Downey, Jr. is such a draw on his own merits that he will just magically make audiences appear at the box office.
This doesn't seem like a terrible bet. Downey, Jr.'s last four franchise movies have all grossed over $400 million. His last Sherlock film took in a relatively paltry $183 million per BoxOfficeMojo. But he's by no means a sure bet. The only one of those movies he's personally carried was the original Iron Man, in which he was admittedly a revelation. Then, too, he benefitted from the dream team writer-director combo of Jon Favreau, Mark Fergus, and Hawk Otsby.
So we'll see. But Doctor Dolittle is a classic, and we deserve to have it back. Why not, after all. It's not our money.
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