This Iconic Fantasy Flop Was Remade 53 Years Later Only to Fail Even Worse

This Iconic Fantasy Flop Was Remade 53 Years Later Only to Fail Even Worse
Image credit: Universal Pictures

Some stories are better left alone.

While it must be devastating for the studio to lose money on a movie that had a huge budget and was promised to make a lot more, it's not that rare in the industry. Box office flops happen, and sometimes they happen rather unpredictably. Other times, however, the failure is calculated before the release, and they still go for it no matter what.

Remaking a successful movie or franchise is dangerous, but it can still pay off. Remaking a movie that bombed at the box office the first time around is beyond comprehension. The case of Robert Downey Jr. 's Dolittle just goes to show that some stories are better left to their own devices.

Is Dolittle a Good Movie?

Created by Hugh Lofting, Doctor Dolittle is a character everyone knows. Some have read the books and others are fans of Eddie Murphy's comedic portrayal of the character. However, aside from Murphy, there have been two other attempts to adapt the story, and both failed miserably.

The story of the first Doctor Dolittle musical film, released in 1967, is difficult to understand if you weren't around at the time of its release. Seemingly attractive to younger audiences, the story of the doctor who can talk to all kinds of animals was panned by critics, and the movie ended up failing commercially as well.

The 60's Dolittle spent $17 million on production but made about $9 million. Including all taxes, distribution and marketing costs, the estimated loss to the studio was about $11 million, which grows to $95 million if we look at the number according to the inflation that has taken place over the years.

This Iconic Fantasy Flop Was Remade 53 Years Later Only to Fail Even Worse - image 1

Nevertheless, thanks to intense lobbying by 20th Century-Fox, the film was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. This very vague success must have inspired the 2020 version of the film.

Should You Watch Dolittle? Well…

Dolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the brilliant doctor who prefers animals to other people, managed to get even worse reviews than its 60s predecessor. With a 15% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film failed to entertain audiences and add value to the existing adaptations.

Even though the 2020 version of Dolittle managed to surpass its $175 million budget with $251 million at the box office, the extra costs still didn't allow the movie to break even. Dolittle's losses could have been as high as $113 million, making it an even bigger commercial failure than its 60s counterpart.

Still, if you are interested in seeing Robert Downey Jr. out of the iron suit, you can buy or rent Dolittle on Vudu, Apple TV, or Amazon Prime Video.