20th Century-Fox spent just over $17 Million making this musical dud, produced by Arthur P. Jacobs, who's next production for Fox was PLANET OF THE APES which had a budget of just $5.8 Million.
DOCTOR DOLITTLE would only gross $9 Million in 1967/68, nearly bankrupt the studio and help end the era of Richard Zanuck as chief of production.
PLANET OF THE APES, on the other hand, would gross $15 million domestically in 1968 and since then, adjusted for inflation, make Fox over $200 Million and spawn a franchise that has so far made Fox nearly $1 Billion worldwide, and in 2001, PLANET OF THE APES was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
DOCTOR DOLITTLE, as far as the general public is concerned, is nearly forgotten.
Doctor Doolittle was an unforgettable experience for me. I was on an Army Weekend Pass in Dallas and I saw it in the Theatre where they picked up Lee Harvey Oswald after the JFK assassination. That memory is always there when I watch the Film (which isn't often).
I will have to disagree with your statement DR Dolittle is nearly forgotten by the public. In America in many ways the film has been more popular over the years on TV then it was in the theatres . For over 3 decades it has been a holiday stable in many markets throughout the country. In syndication indie stations of the past like WNEW TV IN New York showed it many times getting solid ratings. It also has been shown on cable as well through the years. Most recently TCM ON Thanksgiving night. Plus it has done well on video and DVD over the years, Like Chitty Chitty bang bang it has grown a second life away from it's initial theatrical release. I definitely feel to the American public DR Doolittle is a common title. Let's not forget they took a chance with those non musical Eddie Murphy comedies in the 90's, knowing that the title DR Doolittle is a household name.
Since DR. DOLITTLE has been a series of children's books for nearly a century, of course, it's going to have some resonance in the culture, but I think that if you went out like Jay Leno does on his show and just asked the random person in the street what they think of DOCTOR DOLITTLE starring Rex Harrison, they'd be like, "Who's Rex Harrison?" That you've followed the movie like you have, even noting the TV broadcasts over the decades, kind of means you're not the best person to judge. I, too, have been a nearly lifetime cinephile, and have never forgotten the movie, which I didn't see until it had its first network telecast on, I believe, ABC-TV in the early seventies. I bought it on VHS, don't recall getting it on laserdisc, but I do have the DVD, the soundtrack album on CD, and I've read rumors that Fox is planning a rather elaborate, for one of its most notorious flops, Blu-ray special edition, which I'll most certainly buy. But, I like to try and keep perceptions as close to reality as I can, and I still think that for the most part, the movie is forgotten among the general public, but then I will concede, how forgotten can a movie be that has the reputation of being one of the worst films ever nominated for Best Picture?
I am not judging the quality of the film , that is just an opinion. However there is some factual truth i would think by the amount of TV showings and the time of the day stations show it as well when discussing how popular something is. TV stations of course want people to watch their shows and they will of course spend as much time as they can to find the product that will get the most viewers. Naturally it is far from an exact science but there are good reasons why DR Doolittle has gotten a a pretty steady exposure on American TV over the decades. The same reason a film like KING KONG-33- was I believe shown more in syndication years ago then any other movie because it was POPULAR. Don't get me wrong, I get your drift how there has always been a sought of cult following to call this film a turkey. Although I don't agree with that opinion I find the music score nice and the sets a big plus.It's a nice film to look at. But all that is besides the point here.It is pretty popular in it's own way.While at the same time a film like LOST HORIZON-73 has not had a steady exposure over the decades as well as being called a turkey by a lot of people in the mainstream.
Don't get me wrong, I get your drift how there has always been a sought of cult following to call this film a turkey. Although I don't agree with that opinion I find the music score nice and the sets a big plus.It's a nice film to look at. But all that is besides the point here.It is pretty popular in it's own way.While at the same time a film like LOST HORIZON-73 has not had a steady exposure over the decades as well as being called a turkey by a lot of people in the mainstream.
There are things about DOCTOR DOLITTLE that I like, the photography, production design, most of the score and songs, Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, but I can still very plainly see that it's an over-produced, somewhat ill-conceived movie directed with not enough imagination. As to its popularity, I still contend it's "mostly" forgotten. In a country now of over 300 million people, I'd be surprised if there's much more than a quarter to half a million people in the US who have much of a knowledge of this 1967 film. Now, I'm sure Fox would be very happy if they were able to sell a quarter million Blu-rays of DOCTOR DOLITTLE, but I have a pretty certain hunch that there's still plenty of the now 14-year-old DVDs still out there unsold, and if I were working at Fox, I'd probably be laughed at if I said DOCTOR DOLITTLE will sell over 5000 Blu-rays!