Someone out there believes they have an explanation for the troubling year that has been 2020.
Behold, this graph:
When the Cats trailer was released in July last year the Twitter universe went bonkers.
The feedback at the time was that people were confused, intrigued, but mostly downright terrified.
And things didn’t get much better upon its December release.
Cats – which just hit streaming on Binge if you’re keen to see what all the fuss is about – cost about $131 million to make, with extensive visual effects and a lucrative cast including Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, James Corden, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson and Idris Elba. It was also directed by Tom Hooper (Les Miserables, The King’s Speech).
A lot of money also went into marketing, which cost a further $160 million.
Given the global success of the iconic musical of the same by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Universal put significant energy into advertising the film, and people were naturally expecting greatness.
It grossed only $100 million against that hefty budget – making it a certified box office bomb and reportedly lost Universal Pictures up to $160 million.
While the general consensus seemed to be that people were unsettled by the blend of CGI and live-action, there were also some disastrous visual effects issues.
One particular scene revealed Dench’s human hand – with her wedding ring on show – against her cat body.
MORE: Cats movie review
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The studio was forced to notify cinemas on premiere day, and later sent an updated cut with “some improved visual effects”. Studio executives and cinema owners said that the decision to release a modified version of a film already in wide release was “unheard of”.
Then there was an early cut of the entire film where the celebrity cats all had visible “buttholes”, which the studio then had to call an expert in to remove.
A source told the Daily Beast in April: “We paused it. We went to call our supervisor, and we’re like, ‘There’s a f***ing a**hole in there! There’s buttholes! It wasn’t prominent but you saw it … It wasn’t in your face but at the same time, too, if you’re looking, you’ll see it.”
The publication spoke anonymously to a visual effects artist in April, where it was revealed the team had six months to produce the two-minute-long trailer and then only four months to produce the full film. Visual effects artists were spending 90-hour weeks and even sleeping under their desks in some cases to get the film done on time.
Other crew members told the publication they would stay in the office for “two or three days at a time, sleeping under desks” and that the experience was “almost slavery”, citing Hooper’s name.
And Webber didn’t soften the blow for Hooper in a recent interview with The Sunday Times, where he said “the whole thing was ridiculous”. This coming from the man who wrote the original musical.
“The problem with the film was that Tom Hooper decided, as he had with Les Mis, that he didn’t want anybody involved in it who was involved in the original show,” Webber said.
While Hooper hasn’t directly addressed any claims, he gave an insight into his mindset in a December interview prior to the film’s official opening day that he was “tired” and had been working “seven days a week since August”.
Derulo was also quick to defend the film in an interview with TMZ after the movie’s release, saying critics’ opinions “don’t matter”.
“Reviews don’t matter man, reviews don’t matter,” he said. “At the end of the day the people are going to see it and it’s going to be a deportation to another dimension. It’s an incredibly brave piece of art and it always has been that way. When it came out on Broadway.”
Corden and Wilson however, couldn’t resist but make a joke out of it at this year’s Academy Awards in February.
Dressed as cats, the pair poked fun at the bizarre visual effects.
“As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” they said, which was met with laughs and applause from the audience.
Cats is now streaming on Binge