The release of The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle, starring Robert Downey Jr., is being pushed back nine months to Jan. 17, 2020, the beginning of the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend, Universal announced Monday.
Directed by Stephen Gaghan, the star-studded adaptation of the classic children’s tale was supposed to hit theaters April 12, 2019. Studio insiders say the switch-up means the event family film will be able to capitalize on a less-crowded playing field, particularly overseas.
In a twinned move, Universal is relocating Little, starring Marsai Martin (Black-ish) from Sept. 20, 2019, to Doctor Dolittle‘s previous date of April 12.
Pushing Voyage of Doctor Dolittle to January 2020 and away from the 2019 summer season also means that Downey won’t be pulling double duty. On its previous release date. Doctor Dolittle would have opened three weeks before Disney and Marvel Studios’ Avengers 4, which returns Downey in the role of Tony Stark and is expected to be a global box-office juggernaut.
Universal already had the Jan. 17, 2020, date staked out for an “untitled event film.”
Based on the classic 1920s children’s book by Hugh Lofting, Voyage of Doctor Dolittle stars Downey as the eccentric titular doctor with an uncanny ability to communicate with animals.
Actors lending their voices to the pic include Tom Holland, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, John Cena, Rami Malek, Craig Robinson, Marion Cotillard, Frances de la Tour and Carmen Ejogo. Starring in live-action roles are Antonio Banderas, Jim Broadbent and Michael Sheen.
Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum (Alice In Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman) are producing via their Roth/Kirschenbaum Films alongside Susan Downey for Team Downey.
Little is based on an idea pitched by Martin, who is an executive producer alongside producer Will Packer (Night School, Girls Trip). Directed by Tina Gordon (Peeples), the comedy tells the story of a woman who — when the pressures of adulthood become too much to bear — gets the chance to relive the carefree life of her younger self.
Issa Rae, Regina Hall, Tone Bell, Justin Hartley and Luke James also star.