6:40 AM PST 1/16/2020
Courtesy of Universal Pictures; Ben Rothstein/Sony Pictures
‘Doolittle,’ ‘Bad Boys for Life’
Elsewhere, ‘1917’ will stay high up on the chart after picking up 10 Oscar nominations, including for best picture.
It’s reboot mania at the January box office.
Bad Boys for Life and Dolittle will face off over the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, with the former expected to top the chart.
Reteaming Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, threequel Bad Boys for Life opens 17 years after the last installment in the buddy comedy franchise hit the big screen. The R-rated pic cost at least $90 million to produce before marketing and has had solid reviews with a 78 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The even pricier Dolittle — this time starring Robert Downey Jr. as the vet who can talk animals — debuts 19 years after Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle 2 played in cinemas.
From Sony, Bad Boys 3 is pacing to gross at least $38 million to $40 million over the four-day Martin Luther King weekend.
Universal’s Dolittle is tracking for a four-day gross of anywhere from $22 million to $28 million, a disappointing start for a movie that cost at a net $175 million to produce before marketing.
Both movies faced numerous delays on their way to the big screen.
Doolittle, directed and co-written by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Traffic), was supposed to open in May 2019, but its release was delayed in order to rework parts of the story and complete reshoots.
Despite those 11th hour efforts, Dolittle has been ravaged by critics — its current Rotten Tomatoes score is 13 percent, one of the worst ratings of Downey’s career — but still hopes to win over the lucrative family audience.
The timing of Dolittle isn’t ideal for Universal following box office bomb Cats (both films rely heavily on VFX effects).
At the same time, Universal is riding high on the early success of Sam Mendes and Amblin Entertainment’s awards front-runner 1917. Last weekend, the World War I epic opened well ahead of expectations, and could earn $25 million or more this weekend after picking up 10 top Oscar nominations on Jan. 13, including for best picture.
Other movies vying for best picture could also see a boost this weekend, including Neon’s indie hit Parasite, which will be playing in more than 800 theaters as of Friday — its widest count to date — and Sony’s Little Women, which is heading into its fourth weekend.