A new feature piece over at THR has gone into the problems with the recent $175 million family fantasy film “Dolittle” and it turns out many of the movie’s issues can’t be attributed to one person or thing.
Instead, it seems to be a cumulative series of missteps along the way in the film’s production with the trouble beginning after director Stephen Gaghan’s first cut was screened to executives and producers. Seen as “not family-friendly enough” and lacked comedy and special effects, one source says: “It felt like a morose father-son story, and there wasn’t a big animal presence.”
So the studio sought outside help and turned to actor/writer Seth Rogen. Trouble is, Rogen was busy and so instead they got “LEGO Batman” filmmaker Chris McKay involved to add new scenes, funnier moments, and more talking animals. Then McKay got offered the Chris Pratt-led “The Tomorrow War” and so passed on “Dolittle”.
Next came “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” director Jonathan Liebesman who did stay around and helped Gaghan and Downey, Jr. work on the film and the reshoots and apparently he, Gaghan and Downey Jr. all got along fine. Their source says “there was a good sense of community…it was not a toxic set”. Downey was apparently a bit of a wild card and he was the one who came up with the idea of the dragon colonoscopy moment at the last minute for the film’s big finale.
The logistics of that had its own issue – one cut featured Dolittle removing a boulder-sized stool out of the dragon when it was ultimately changed to bagpipes and a lot of ensuing flatulence. One insider says Downey was open for anything: “You can throw so many ideas at him and have the feeling he’ll try anything and everything. He’ll give you feedback. And he’ll have some ideas of his own.” Another says it was the studio that guided the film to its finish.
Ultimately none of it paid off, the film has had a worldwide gross to date of roughly $94 million and is looking to lose around $100 million for the studio depending upon how it goes in the U.K. and China where it still has yet to open (though it doesn’t look good).