Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Banishing 'Dolittle' With Huge $65M-Plus Bow

Ben Rothstein
'Bad Boys for Life'

Robert Downey Jr.'s 'Dolittle' — costing $175 million to $200 million to produce — may only get to $30 million in its debut in the first big-budget miss of 2020.

Bad Boys for Life is laughing its way to $22 million-plus at the Friday box office for a debut of $65 million-plus over the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, according to early Friday returns.

Friday's haul will include an impressive $6.4 million in previews, a January best.

The threequel, reteaming Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, opens 17 years after the last installment in Sony's action comedy franchise. Performing well ahead of expectations, it looks to score the second-best domestic gross ever for the MLK weekend behind American Sniper ($107 million), not adjusted for inflation. And there's already talk of a sequel.

Bad Boys 3 cost $90 million to produce before marketing. Years in the making, the R-rated pic was directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and co-stars Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Paola Nunez, Kate del Castillo, Nicky Jam and Joe Pantoliano.

Universal's troubled family pic Dolittle looks to gross a far softer $6 million Friday for a $30 million four-day weekend. While that's somewhat ahead of expectations, it is still a problematic start for a film that cost $175 million to $200 million before marketing.

The period film, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the vet who can talk to animals, has been ravaged by critics. The hope is that traffic will pick up as kids and parents become available. Friday's gross will include $925,000 in Thursday previews.

The timing isn't ideal for Universal following the box office bomb Cats (both films rely heavily on VFX effects).

Dolittle — marking Downey's first turn on the big screen post-Iron Man — had been tracking for a four-day gross of $22 million to $28 million.

The last Dolittle movie, starring Eddie Murphy, hit the big screen 19 years ago and was set in contemporary times.

The 2020 movie, directed and co-written by Stephen Gaghan (Syriana, Traffic), was supposed to open last May, but its release was delayed in order to rework parts of the story and complete reshoots.

The pic's Rotten Tomatoes score currently stands at 13 percent, one of the worst of Downey's career. (Bad Boys' score is 76 percent.)

Downey stars alongside Antonio Banderas and Michael Sheen in live-action roles, while the voice cast includes Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Marion Cotillard and John Cena.

A much-needed balm for Universal is the early success of Sam Mendes' awards frontrunner 1917, which scored 10 Oscar nominations Jan. 13, including for best picture.

Last weekend, the World War I epic opened well ahead of expectations and is on course to gross $25 million to $26 million over the four-day holiday weekend.

Jan. 17, 1 p.m.: Updated with revised weekend projections.