Thanks almost entirely to the “Avengers” series and its various offshoots — this summer’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” will mark his eighth Marvel Cinematic Universe movie in ten years — Robert Downey Jr. is one of the biggest stars in the world these days. But even outside those films, Downey Jr. is a force to be reckoned with — only “The Judge” really underperformed in recent years — especially when he’s in commercial territory like “Sherlock Holmes.”
So you’d think that the recently announced “The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle,” which will see Downey Jr walk with the animals, talk to the animals as Hugh Lofting’s adventurous hero (previously played by Rex Harrison and Eddie Murphy on screen), would be a somewhat fearless box-office force, and studio Universal had put the movie down for a prime Memorial Day 2019 date a few weeks ago. But it turns out that there’s something Dolittle is afraid of: “Star Wars.”
Last week, Disney announced that Colin Trevorrow’s “Episode IX” would open on May 24th, 2019, marking a return to the traditional May opening for the main installments after “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” both opened at Christmas. That being the same date as “The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle” (which will be directed by “Syriana” helmer Stephen Gaghan for some reason) has marked out, Universal have quite sensibly blinked, and moved it up a month to April 12th. It’ll open against an untitled “Disneytoons” movie that’s likely another in the “Planes” series, a week after an untitled DC movie, and a week before “Fast & Furious 9.” Jeez, even April is stuffed with blockbusters now.
Meanwhile, the studio has also set a date for Robert Zemeckis’ next film, likely ruling the director out from those reasons he might take over DC’s “The Flash.” Though the project is untitled, that it stars Steve Carell tips us off that it’s Zemeckis’ take on the documentary “Marwencol,” about an artist and photographer who reacted to traumatic brain damage after an attack by building a model town representing his life and even his attack. Sounds like potent territory, and one that could well see Zemeckis and Carell back in the awards conversation. It’ll open at Thanksgiving 2018, November 21st, to be exact, opposite the “Wreck-It-Ralph” sequel.