‘Cats’ bombed at the box office & the director sent a new version out to theaters

Christmas at Buckingham Palace

I can’t believe people actually paid money to see Cats in the theater. Like, why would you waste your money on that? It looked like a hellscape, the reviews were awful and the effects looked half-assed and cheap as hell. Well, it looks like very few people actually did go see Cats – it made $2.6 million on Friday, the first day of its domestic opening, compared to The Rise of Skywalker’s $90 million Friday opening (and reported $190 million weekend box office). Cats ended up opening with a very sad $6.5 million for the weekend, which is even lower than the sub-basement level predictions. No one expected Cats to make Star Wars money. But they did hope that it would make some money, at least enough to justify the $100 million production cost, not including promotional cost. This probably doesn’t help either – director Tom Hooper was still working on the visual effects after the film was in theaters. Theaters have been given a new version of the film to show:

How many lives does Cats have? On Friday — the movie’s opening day — Universal notified thousands of theaters they will be receiving an updated version of Tom Hooper’s troubled film with “some improved visual effects,” according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

The move is unheard of for a finished title already in release, according to cinema operators and Hollywood studio executives. Insiders say it is being done at Hooper’s request. Cats — which has been ravaged by critics — is in need of any help it can get at the box office after opening to $2.6 million on Friday and receiving a C+ CinemaScore from moviegoers. Hooper has been upfront about the fact that he barely finished the CGI-heavy Cats in time for the Dec. 16 world premiere in New York City. Sources say he subsequently wanted to make more tweaks to certain effects.

Working Title produced the star-studded Christmas film, which cost roughly $100 million to make after tax rebates and incentives, and before marketing. Universal’s dispatch to exhibitors said the changes do not affect the running time.

[From THR]

“Universal’s dispatch to exhibitors said the changes do not affect the running time.” Too bad? Because that was one of the complaints from nearly every review, that the film really dragged and the bizarre cat-human hybrids sang and danced for too long and it was completely nuts. Why not edit that sh-t down? Why spend all that time and effort to just… vaguely improve the CGI cat fur? Wasn’t there any way to take out the cat breasts?

Apparently, the CGI was so terrible in the first version given to theaters that… Judi Dench had a human hand with a wedding ring. My God. What a huge waste of time and money.

Christmas at Buckingham Palace


Photos courtesy of ‘Cats’.

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66 Responses to “‘Cats’ bombed at the box office & the director sent a new version out to theaters”

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  1. Kittycat says:

    Cats bombed?

    “Pretends to be shocked”

  2. Gil says:

    You have to read some of the threads in Twitter about this mess. They are hilarious and made me laugh hard. I have read stories about Elba looking obscene naked and some dancing cockroaches. I can wait this thing is available in Netflix. I want to watch this mess so bad 😂

  3. Arizona says:

    my friend and I are getting stupid stoned and going to see this because I think it’s going to be hilarious. but definitely absolutely awful. I’m just sad that I’m getting the one with the CGI fixed.

  4. STRIPE says:

    Soapbox warning!

    Can you imagine if a woman or POC was making edits to their film while it was in theaters?!!! They would never work again. Meanwhile I look forward to Tom Hoopers next $100m movie and his press tour focused on his comeback from Cats.

    /end soapbox.

  5. Erinn says:

    I still don’t really understand why this was made.

    Or rather – maybe they should have gone with lesser known actors/singers/stage performers who you wouldn’t need to make sure their super famous faces were recognizable enough for their egos. This whole movie was a lot of weird decisions.

    • boredblond says:

      That’s a good point. Seems H’wood thinks big names can sell anything, and they don’t understand that some plays just aren’t as effective on film (like ‘A Chorus Line’).

    • Ana Maria says:

      me neither…and as they were checking what was being filmed, think about it, no one realized the cats looked awful?? I remember thinking when watching the trailer for the first time that the only way the movie could work is if the studio repackaged it as a horror movie

    • Bettyrose says:

      IKR? The musical ran forever but it was also the punchline of a lot of jokes. Who was the intended audience for this?

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      A whole lot of weird decisions Erinn. And where were all the actors’ advisors? Didn’t anyone tell anyone this was a bad idea? Dench, you shouldn’t do this…because. Iris, say no. It’s not going to be a good look. Taylor go ahead it’s right up your ‘alley.’

      • Holly hobby says:

        Well considering Cats was successful in Broadway, the actors probably think this is a good resume move. Who would have thought this was a piece of crap?

    • Liz version 700 says:

      Erinn I think “a whole lot of weird decisions” is being kind. This movie was basically a modern retelling of an Acid Dream”

    • K says:

      That’s what I’ve been saying since I first saw the terrifying trailer. “What the hell? And WHY?”

      The upside is I know it will be featured on my favorite podcast (How Did This Get Made) eventually. They can rip it apart in a funny way so I don’t ever have to see it.

  6. minx says:

    The bad reviews were plentiful and hilarious to read.

  7. BlueSky says:

    I will be shocked if no one loses their job over this $100 million fiasco

    • minx says:

      Someone should. This was an expensive, badly conceived disaster.

      • Ann says:

        Yup. Seems several people should be fired over this because anyone with eyeballs and half a brain can see this is profoundly unappealing. Cats with boobs. That right there should serve as a cautionary reminder for anyone in the future attempting human-animal hybrids.

      • Holly hobby says:

        The cats with human body parts reminds me of a NBC show, Manimal. Anyone remember that one? I’m not making this up.

      • Moneypenny424 says:

        @Holly Hobby dying at the Manimal reference! My husband brings that one up periodically 🤣

  8. shirurusu says:

    I really didn’t like Cats as a musical either but it did have some redeeming features in the beautiful costumes/ make up and great dancers! It’s unfortunate that they’ve made the cat movements into some kind of writhing – the title should be “Horny cats – in hell!” And the totally unnecessary cgi “fur” that looks like a bad Sims3 skin 😛I also don’t like the fact that they painted Francesca into a white cat 😏They could have just put all the actors in Angora sweaters and given them a McDonalds paint job and it would have been miles better.

    • maisie says:

      Hah, this reminds me of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Titus Andromedon snuck into the Broadway cast of Cats because no one there ever noticed when cast members came or went or if they could sing or dance, just as long as they had some sort of ratty costume & writhed & leapt around onstage. True, I guess.

  9. manda says:

    I read an article that quoted from various bad reviews, and it was hilarious. The reviews are just priceless

  10. Enn says:

    If this keeps Taylor from being cast in anything again, it will be worth every penny.

    • minx says:

      I don’t think the blame for this fiasco is going to be pinned on the actors. I see the producers, the director and studio honchos getting the fallout.

      • Leriel says:

        You are right, but Hollywood bosses are still used to blaming actors and their “star power” in box office bombs, so they may decide if Taylor can’t bring people to cinemas, she isn’t worthy of attention and casting her especially into something big.

      • minx says:

        Meh, she’s a relative footnote to this bomb. Francesca Hayward, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson…I don’t think any of them will be held responsible. When a new CGI version is released AFTER the premiere, the fault lies higher up than with the actors.

  11. Leriel says:

    It’s really funny that 90% of medias uses Taylor images for articles about Cats, especially right now for articles about Cats box office, and she barely did any promo – one red carpet and one Vogue coverage isn’t promo at all in our times.

    • Jays says:

      ha, i feel like Taylor was the only one doing any promo for this! I mean, she wrote a song for the movie that they made a big deal of, to the point of “might this get an Oscar nomination?”. She did interviews and such. Plus, she’s KNOWN as a cat lady / cat lover, so this film was really on brand for her. She obviously put in quite a bit of effort, so too bad for her this is such a hot mess.

  12. Jan says:

    They say this was a vanity project for Tom Hooper and he was just too close to see it was crap and he wouldn’t listen to anyone who tried to tell him different. I have an Oscar and know what I’m doing!!!

  13. sue denim says:

    John Mulaney has a v funny take on Cats:

    “I think it’s hilarious. The first musicals my wife saw were Cats and Tommy. She loved and loves Cats. I hadn’t seen it until it came back to Broadway. It came to the Neil Simon a couple of years ago. I was like, “What’s it about?” She was like, “I don’t know.” I’ve seen it once. If you haven’t seen it and you think there’s some story to it that you just haven’t thought about it, you’re wrong. What you see is what you get. It is cats singing about how they are cats. I know there’s Macavity and there’s the big tire and there are a few moves, but it’s basically just cats singing about how they are Jellicle cats. For that reason alone, it’s extremely funny to me. I was laughing the entire time I saw it because I remembered how world famous this had been when I was a kid. I’d never seen it but the logo and just the notion of Cats. Cats meant a hit. Maybe some part of my brain was inspired to make Sack Lunch Bunch. To be this committed to this idea is so funny. The amount of work Andrew Lloyd Webber, the amount of time he put into that, and what it is. Every day he got up to work on that. It’s like, that alone is I think funnier than any comedy could be.”


  14. Cindy says:

    I know everyone is a general after the war, but I think this could’ve been fun as an animated movie. I imagine it as a 2D old school style Disney movie, but I doubt that’d ever happen. Still, actually animated CGI cats made from scratch sounds better than this mess.

    • Veronica S says:

      I honestly have no idea why nobody thought to do animation or just costumes like the original. If anything, a big part of the appeal was the costumes, IMO. The designs were fun and creative. Sort of like a rock concert – there’s no real plot, but the songs are catchy and everybody is dressed wildly, so it’s a good time.

  15. Lala11_7 says:

    They should have did a live version of this on a network…THAT would have been perfect…

    This mess….

    Seriously….whomever green-lit this…needs to NOT have the opportunity to do that again….

  16. Louise177 says:

    I don’t know how release dates work but I don’t understand why they didn’t wait a year. Doing editing up to release date and CGI after it’s in theaters screams bad movie. The optics made it dead on arrival.

  17. Other Renee says:

    Did they really think that editing the cgi would make a difference? Seriously? No matter how many times they change the cat litter it’s still gonna stink!

    (I saw the musical once and have never been so bored in my life.)

  18. Sean says:

    So…who’s going to be responsible for cleaning the litterbox?

  19. Sara says:

    Cat boobs. That’s all I got.

    • Giddy says:

      I love Judi Dench’s hand with the wedding ring. It looks like she has a cheap, really itchy sweater on.

      • minx says:

        😂🤣😂 And she’s wearing a fur coat. I read that they did that to give her some dignity, so that she wouldn’t have to be in a tight body suit, but if you think about it, whose fur is she wearing?! Some relative??

  20. Roo says:

    I just watched the trailer for the first time and I’m CRYING from laughing. WHY!?!

  21. MellyMel says:

    All the bad reviews are hilarious and almost make me want to get drunk and go see it over the holidays just for giggles. It’s like watching a train wreck.

  22. Wanda Gould says:

    How could the make Judi dress like the cowardly lion!!!?! I cannot unseen it.

  23. Dragonlady sakura says:

    My niece works part time at our local movie theater and told me they didn’t sale one ticket for this movie on opening day. And the weekend only sold ten tickets! So embarrassingly sad.

  24. Mo says:

    Why they didn’t push this until next year, I don’t know. It’s like there was an ego thing putting it up against Star Wars. There would have been people seeing it just for fun who were either at Star Wars or traveling/partying for Christmas. Real bad judgement on the part of Universal executives who didn’t take the decision out of Hooper’s hands.

    Looking at Hooper’s resume, there is nothing suggesting that he was ready to do an effects heavy film. It is it’s own total skill. Disney/Pixar has people who have been doing nothing else for their entire careers, and they carefully plan and overlook the projects. I’m guessing that they really screwed themselves by letting the actors go wild and then having to put fur on it. In animation/video games the animators/designers plan all movements so that they will be easy (or at least not impossible) to do the character art on top of. My niece did a short film about ninjas. Why ninjas? You don’t have to animate the faces!

    • Deering24 says:

      This essentially had no script–and arguably there is no way to replicate whatever theatrical experience that made the musical work. Add to that bad FX work, and that’s three strikes. 🙂

  25. Holly hobby says:

    Releasing a new version with updated cgi is like putting a band aid on a gaping bleeding wound. It won’t change anything. Who green lit the updated version? Sometimes it’s better to let things die.

    The problem isn’t the cgi. It’s the overall creepy look, thin story etc.

  26. Liz version 700 says:

    My mom is determined to see this and I have tried to warn her. She just is determined to do it. My only hope is that it gets pulled from the theater before she has time to see it. If she sees it I am afraid it will haunt her nightmares.

    • Naddie says:

      Try to distract her with other medias and when you can’t, pretend you’re sick.

    • Deathbybacon says:

      My mom hates Star Wars so we decided to go see Cats as a compromised on Xmas day. My mother also hates musicals and artsy, creepy stuff. I can’t wait.😂

  27. Aimee says:

    I have to confess I have never seen the original CATS and didn’t even really know what it was about but now that I do I can’t figure out WHY this was such a huge Broadway hit? I get it, Andrew Lloyd Webber, but the story itself is just weird. I did enjoy reading the awful reviews last week though.

    • Liz version 700 says:

      Aimee I wish I knew. I saw it in my 20’s for $100 and believe me when I tell you I was asking the same thing. Why?!?! Why am I here? I love real cats you would think this would be better….

  28. Mrs.Krabapple says:

    [Kent Brockman:] Mr. Simpson, how long have you been a cat person?

    [Homer:] All my life, Kent.
    I prefer “catsup” to “ketchup.”
    And to me, Yusuf Islam will always be Cat Stevens.

    [Kent:] Then you must really love the Broadway musical Cats?

    [Homer:] Oh God, no. It sucks.

  29. Meg says:

    I feel like taylor will take this personally and add it to the long list of taylor against the world woe is me victim game she plays

  30. MangoAngel says:

    Welp, there goes Idris Elba’s shot at being James Bond.

    Hiddleston ruined his chances with an “I ❤️ TS” tank top, Idris ruined his with a TS-included cat-erwaul. Good thing Dame Judy has already left the franchise, or it would’ve done her in, too.

    • K says:

      I’m sort of disappointed in Idris most of all for being involved. He’s too sexy IRL to be a creepy cartoonish cat man.

  31. Crazy Cat Lady says:

    Every time I read something about this mess of a film all I get are images of Cam in ‘Modern Family’ running around in his creepy ‘Cats’ costume after getting a part in a local production. He was trying to save a tree at the park so he climbed it in full costume. Now turn that episode into a full movie and I’ll pay to see it…not this disaster. I’m a crazy cat lover and even I won’t give this a shot because I saw it on Broadway once. Hellscape is correct. I have two female cats and if they suddenly had boobs like that… we’d be making an emergency run to the vet.