‘Dolittle’ Headed for Box Office Flop as ‘Bad Boys for Life’ Opens Solidly

Dave McNary

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Robert Downey Jr.’s “Dolittle” is headed for a box office flop.

Universal’s fantasy-adventure grossed $925,000 from Thursday night previews from 3,050 North American theaters, with showings beginning at 5 p.m. The film, projected for a four-day opening of $22 million to $25 million, carries a $180 million-plus price tag.

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Bad Boys for Life,” meanwhile, launched solidly with $6.4 million at 3,154 North American locations. That’s a new record for a January preview, topping the $5.3 million mark by “American Sniper” in 2015.

Sony’s sequel to 1995’s “Bad Boys” and 2003’s “Bad Boys II,” which began preview showings starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday night, should collect $38 million from 3,740 venues over the four-day holiday weekend. The film reunites Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as old-school cops taking down the leader of a Miami drug cartel, and carries a $90 million production budget.

Bad Boys for Life,” from directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, has generated a mostly positive reception, with a 76% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The buddy comedy is expected to easily win the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Dolittle” stars Downey as a veterinarian able to talk to animals. The movie, panned by critics and marred by production problems, looks to be another dud for the studio. It carries a dismal 17% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Stephen Gaghan directed “Dolittle,” which centers on the title character seeking a cure to nurse the young Queen Victoria of England back to health. Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen star in live-action roles, while the voice cast includes Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard and John Cena.

“Dolittle” will be battling Universal’s “1917,” which won last weekend impressively with $37 million. The World War I epic could earn another $25 million this weekend after picking up 10 Oscar nominations on Monday, including a best picture nod.

Overall North American box office has totaled $461.4 million through Jan. 15, a 2.2% gain over 2019, according to Comscore. M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” opened on the same weekend a year ago with $46.5 million.

“With the box office year of 2020 off to a running start, a solid MLK weekend is in the cards with the potential for one of the biggest January opening weekends of all-time with ‘Bad Boys for Life,’ ‘Dolittle’ poised to draw underserved family audiences, and multiple awards contenders in the mix,” said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

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