Generations of children have loved the story of a doctor who talks to animals, from the time that Hugh Lofting first started writing the Doctor Dolittle series from the trenches of the First World War in 1914-1918, when real news was too horrifying. The first book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle: Being the History of His Peculiar Life at Home and Astonishing Adventures in Foreign Parts Never Before Printed, was published in 1920.

Robert Downey Jr already spent some time talking to pets in 2006’s The Shaggy Dog.

His follow up book, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, was published in 1922 and  won the Newbery Medal. There were eight more Dolittle books published during the author’s lifetime, and a couple, comprised of unpublished short works, were published posthumously.

Film versions have been just as beloved, including one in 1967 starring Rex Harrison and another in 1998 with Eddie Murphy in the title role. Now word is that a new version will head into production with Robert Downey Jr as the talented doctor. From Deadline Hollywood:

Universal Pictures won an auction for The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle, with Robert Downey Jr playing the title character and Stephen Gaghan directing and rewriting a Tom Shepherd script based on the 1920s children’s books by Hugh Lofting. Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum will produce for their Roth/Kirschenbaum Films, alongside Susan Downey from Team Downey.

Several studios chased this one hard. I’d heard 20th Century Fox — which made the 1967 Rex Harrison film and the redo films that starred Eddie Murphy — and Sony were in the mix at one point or another over the weekend.

The full story is here.

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