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SYFY WIRE Box Office

Box office: Dolittle collared with $22 million in North America, fetches $17 million overseas

By Josh Weiss
Dolittle Robert Downey Jr.

Dolittle, director Stephen Gaghan's big-budget adaptation of Hugh Lofting's famous literary doctor who can speak with animals, is majorly disappointing during its first weekend at the North American box office.

The family-friendly fantasy film is expected to fetch only $22 million during the traditional 3-day weekend frame and a total of $30 million over the extended MLK holiday. That's just $5 million more than the last big-screen Doctor Dolittle release starring Eddie Murphy in 2001. However, Doctor Dolittle 2 didn't have the benefit of opening on an extended holiday weekend.

While that might be good money for a more independent project, the sweeping Universal production cost around $180 million to make in the first place. The production budget began to balloon when Jonathan Liebesman (Wrath of the Titans) and Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) were both brought in to help Gaghan (Syriana, Gold) with the heavy CGI effects that brought the titular character's gabbing animal companions to life.

Overseas, the movie, which stars Robert Downey Jr. (Avengers: Endgame) in the starring role, is expected to make around $17 million, for a global opening of $47 million. The project hasn't fared well with critics either and currently holds a rather terrible score of 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Downey's co-stars are also top-notch, although many of them appear as CGI beasts of the land, sea, and sky. The voice talents of Tom Holland (Jip, a dog), John Cena (Yoshi, a polar bear), Marion Cotillard (Toto, a fox), Octavia Spencer (Dab-Dab, a duck), Carmen Ejogo (Regine, a lioness), Ralph Fiennes (Barry, a tiger), Selena Gomez (Betsy, a giraffe), Rami Malek (Chee-Chee, a gorilla), Kumail Nanjiani (Plimpton, an ostrich), Craig Robinson (Fleming, a mouse), and Emma Thompson (Polynesia, a parrot) are featured in the story.

Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Ralph Ineson, and Kasia Smutniak appear as human characters.

Jumanji & Rise of Skywalker

Sony's Jumanji: The Next Level raked in an extra $9.5 million during its sixth weekend for a domestic tally of $270 million. Internationally, the video-game-inspired sequel has scored over $711 million. If it hopes to rack up the $962 global total of Welcome to the Jungle, the film's got to clock in some serious hours of playtime before it leaves theaters.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker recently passed $1 billion at the global box office, but only managed an additional $8.4 million in its fifth domestic weekend. In North America, the ninth and final entry in the Skywalker Saga has made $492 million. That's roughly $400 million less than The Force Awakens, which was well on its way to $900 million in its fifth domestic frame in 2016. The Last Jedi had $592 million by its fifth domestic weekend in 2017, $100 million more than Rise of Skywalker, which, despite its big bucks, is the worst-performing installment of the sequel trilogy.

Jojo Rabbit & Joker

Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi's satire of Nazi Germany, is expected to bring in an extra $1.8 million from 1,005 domestic venues across the MLK weekend. To date, the film, which nabbed six Oscar nominations last Monday, has goose-stepped its way to $23.8 million in North America. Globally, the Fox Searchlight project has almost $44 million to its name.

Joker should bolster its billion-dollar global bounty as it returns to theaters this weekend for a special limited run. The DC origin flick from director Todd Phillips is up for 11 Academy Awards.

(SYFY and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal, which released Dolittle.)

(box office intel via Variety & Box Office Mojo)