Robert Downey Jnr’s Dolittle could lose $100m after bombing at the US box office

Telegraph Reporters
Robert Downey Jnr as Dr John Dolittle in what is proving a box-office bomb - Universal Pictures

The adventure-comedy film Dolittle, starring Robert Downey Jnr., is expected to lose up to $100m after a dire opening at the US box office.

Several industry experts told The Wrap that they expect the film to fail to recoup the majority of its $150m budget.

Dolittle, the latest adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s 1920s children’s books about a doctor who can speak to animals, was released by Universal Studios on January 17 in America.

It took only $30m in its opening weekend there, and a further $20m overseas.

Dolittle’s box-office woes follow its poor reception by US film critics, who have branded it “lavishly misbegotten” and “anti-cinema”.

Downey Jnr.’s performance was singled out for particular oppobrium. His peculiar Welsh accent has been called “utterly bizarre”, while one critic remarked that the actor seemed “determined to sabotage this movie”.

The film also stars Michael Sheen and the voices of Emma Thompson, Remi Malek and Marion Cotillard.

Writing on Friday, The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin suggested that Downey Jnr.’s career, in the post-Marvel era, may be at risk of stagnating.

“Downey’s non-Marvel work in the last decade,” Collin wrote, “hasn’t nurtured and developed his screen persona.”

The film’s disastrous performance so far marks the second big-budget failure for Universal in two months. Cats, which starred Taylor Swift, Judi Dench and Francesca Hayward, was treated even more brutally by critics at its December release, although its smaller budget ($95 million) meant that its losses (roughly $70m) have been less severe.

Dolittle will be released in the UK, as well as other markets including China, this week.