The Visual Effects Society did not appreciate ‘Cats’ being mocked at the Oscars


The near-total panning of Cats led Universal to remove the film from Oscar consideration. However, two of its stars, James Corden and Rebel Wilson, weren’t above poking fun at themselves and the film by dressing up as cats to present an Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony. The two were greeted by laughter as they walked onstage to present the award for Best Visual Effects. In their introductory remarks, James and Rebel explained that they both know how important visual effects are to a film.

Not everyone laughed, though. The Society of Visual Effects released a statement slamming the joke and claiming that it demeaned the work of visual effects artists,

“In presenting the Academy Award for outstanding visual effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie Cats,” a statement from the Visual Effects Society read, according to The Guardian. “The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly. The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing and honoring visual effects as an art form — and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued.”

“On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke,” the statement continued. “It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision…Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects — and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing — because we all deserve it.”

[From Twitter via People]

Yves McCrae, a visual effects artist on the film, wasn’t happy, either:

The visual effects in Cats were a huge part of the problem with the movie, though. That said, sure, a poorly executed story with a flimsy plot and any weak links in a cast or crew can’t be salvaged by great visual effects, and the VES was absolutely trying to get a dig in there with its point. Plus they were likely told by the film’s higher-ups exactly what effects to create and were just following orders. It sounds like they were working stressful long hours too. I understand why they felt they had to stand up for their entire profession, and I do feel bad for folks like Yves, who obviously were trying their best. A bizarre story and out-there visual effects is a recipe for something that is going to be polarizing and that a lot of people will hate. I’m sure that everyone who thinks Cats was terrible doesn’t hate visual effects artists, though. Humanoid cats are jarring!

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29 Responses to “The Visual Effects Society did not appreciate ‘Cats’ being mocked at the Oscars”

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  1. jessamine says:

    Rebel and James’s joke was spot on: Visual effects are incredibly important and Cats is a cautionary tale.

  2. dofcol says:

    The Oscars dig by Rebel and Corden at the VFX team is like the Razzie nom for Frankie Hayward. It’s just a bit sh*tty and nasty, directed at people who shouldn’t bear the brunt of the blame.

  3. Mara says:

    Does anyone else love Cats? I think it’s one of the best ‘so bad it’s good’ films in ages and the visual effects only add to that.

    • Adrien says:

      I tried to like it but no. I found Joker to be OK, I also enjoyed a bit of Mortdecai, Johnny Depp film. But Cats was unnecessary. It ruined Idris Elba for me.

    • Ann says:

      The film is not nearly as bad as it was made out to be. I enjoyed it.

    • I think the best thing about Cats was Rebel and James performance at the Oscars. 😎. That said, I could see Cats possibly becoming a minor Rocky Horror Picture Show. Also, because the costumes were so sexual I Ed, I have to wonder if one or more people seriously involved with putting this film together might have a “furry” fetish. 🙈🙉🙊

      • WendyWoo says:

        Not even close. If a Furry had been involved with this then the designs wouldn’t have been so ugly. I know because a film critic I like who is a furry hated it.

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve seen the musical, and it’s definitely one of those things people either really love or REALLY HATE. With a strong majority hating it (we saw it on Broadway, and during intermission, the whispered conversations around me about WTF was going on were echoing throughout the hall). The story really doesn’t make any sense. Like at all. I love it for the singing and dancing. But when you’re talking about a movie, people want a story, and the story just isn’t great. So obviously, it’s going to translate even worse to film.

  4. Marjorie says:

    James and Rebel were poking fun at themselves too, which given the ego in that room was refreshing and funny. Loved when they started batting the microphone around.

    Cats the movie was a disaster because Cats is actually a little musical for little theaters where young actors dressed in leotards, leg warmers, and stick-on whiskers dance in the aisles with the audience. Also Grizabella sings Memories and dies. No CGI breasts required.

  5. Originaltessa says:

    Shake it off. Laugh it off. Getting upset over spilled milk is pointless. They need to move on. Sorry they took a bad gig. In real life, people work for years on failed projects all the time. Their project at least saw the light of day. It’s life.

    • Abby says:

      Right, this is exactly how I feel. I work in IT and it’s not at all uncommon to work on projects that get scrapped half way through, after a shit ton of work, or to deliver a product and no one even likes it. Unless you’re upper level management there’s nothing you can do – the overall design & direction come from too high up.

      It’s disheartening to work on a failed project, but it’s not uncommon so you just have to try not to take it personally.

    • Spicecake38 says:

      Yep,everyone gets offended about everything and I mean everything anymore.It just didn’t work out like they were hoping/wasn’t well received.It happens in all aspects of life every day.
      I personally can’t even watch the trailer for this movie,it’s just so weird it actually makes me physically uncomfortable…
      Rebel and James were poking fun at themselves.

  6. hoopjumper says:

    I also thought the whole, “what does a cinematographer do?” thing by JLD and Ferrell was a bit weird. I wouldn’t be thrilled if I were nominated for an incredibly prestigious award in front of millions of people and the joke was, “what’s your contribution, again?” I think they may have been going for we’re-self-involved-actors-who -don’t-know-what-we-should-know (reaching here) but that’s still making it about the actors…Didn’t love either set up.

    • Kelly says:

      That joke bothered me more as well, because it was completely gratuitious. I understand the visual effects team of Cats worked hard but, come on, it still looked like shit and Cats will be remembered as an awful film that should’ve never happened. This isn’t the first and won’t be the last time people laugh at that film.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cameras should have been shut off and a voice crying in the darkness proclaim “That’s what a fucking cinematographer does.”

  7. HK9 says:

    With a movie that bad, what else is there to do?

  8. Erinn says:

    This was a mess from start to finish. SO many people dropped the ball collectively, that there was just no saving it. I understand WHY the visual effects artists are upset – I think these people tend to be in a situation where they have to really center their life around their job, work insane hours, and not get proper recognition for their efforts.

    Buttttt… you look at this, and you look at sonic – and you can’t help but think “were they blind?”. I understand that they follow the directions of the people in charge – and only so much of it is their fault at the end of the day. But when I’m coding and designing websites… I KNOW when something is trash. And it’s typically because whoever is involved in the funding starts getting outside influence and starts pixel pushing and things get out of hand quickly. So while I do feel for them – there’s no way that they can look at their work and think “wow, we KILLED it”. I believe they put their heart and soul into it, but at the end of the day, the end product sucked. You need to take that in, and move on from it, and have the ability to laugh at the situation.

  9. Mireille says:

    I will never understand why they made this into a movie. Even as a musical, it lacked a strong storyline. It seemed to be just a vehicle for humanoid cats to be singing songs. My colleague and her son loved the musical, but me, meh. I used to study musicals in college and Andrew Lloyd Webber got no love from my professors. The new range of musicals that have come out in recent years have more substantive storylines, e.g. Dear Evan Hansen, Come from Away, Hamilton, etc.

  10. lucy2 says:

    If I worked hard on it and then got laid off, I’d be a little mad at this too, but beyond that, the VFX were rightfully criticized, and shouldn’t be off limits from a little ribbing at the Oscars.

    • Some chick says:

      That is literally how the movie industry works, tho.

      You get hired to work on a film. You work insane hours for little to no thanks and so-so pay so others can make millions. The release deadline comes (or the project gets spiked) and then they lay you off. Then you start hustling for a new gig.

      Lather, rinse, repeat. It sounds pretty terrible, TBH. But that is how it works.

  11. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Good movies, bad movies and everything between get made every year. You can’t always be attached to greatness, but you carry on. You ride the wave, because a) you are a part of it, b) you are a professional and c) you are mature and can handle everything that comes post distribution be it positive, negative, comedic or whatever. Those actors were members of the cast and yet they’re on stage in horrid costumes to be laughed at. If ya can’t hang with the downs as well as the ups, might consider staying home. Let the rest of us enjoy laughter whenever and however it comes. Jesus, it can’t always be about issues.

  12. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    The cat-boobs were terrifying. I need an apology for those

  13. Sayrah says:

    I can’t watch the movie because the promos alone are so disturbing despite an excellent cast. No thank you 😬

  14. Valiantly Varnished says:

    The visual effects in Cats were horrible. Period. They were sloppily done – even forgetting to edit out Judi Dench’s HAND and wedding ring.
    There are TONS of films released every year with amazing effects. This wasn’t one of them and the Visual Effects Society can get over themselves. Their work can be critiqued just like the work of actors and directors.

  15. WendyWoo says:

    If anything, the bad visual effects put butts in seats. I can’t tell you how many friends went to see it purely for the visual horror of the designs. Effects artists have horrible working conditions and shitty compensation.

  16. Kate says:

    I mean, the visual effects were so bad they had to go back and fix things after the film was already in cinemas. It’s obvious that the director and the studio made some awful decisions that caused those issues, but it still only serves to highlight that, yes, visual effects are incredibly important to a films quality.

  17. The Recluse says:

    The fun thing was that the whole playing with the microphone thing was improvised. The microphone malfunctioned and bumped them and they ran with it in character.

  18. Susie says:

    I get why everyone is like they should be able to take a joke the movie is bad but from my understanding effects is probably the most brutal job in Hollywood. They are deeply underpaid to the point where the company that did the lion king which made a billion this year went out of business a few months ago. Which means a lot of people lost their job. They are also given little lead time so with their really low wages they work the “80 hour” weeks right up until when the movie is released. Apparently they were working on Cats until the day it was released and a new copy was actually sent out after the movie premiered. With all this if I worked in this business I would also be salty if they made fun of me at the Oscars. Like short film directors this isn’t a part of the industry that gets to be part of the fun and wealthy side of Hollywood like actors. They are barely making ends meet. I usually prefer people that can take a joke but in this case the joke should have been on the director or music not on the VFX people. Corden and rebel get to go home to their mansions while the VFX people don’t have jobs anymore. Anyway just my opinion. I’m usually a lurker but the joke slightly bothered

  19. Leah says:

    The “cats” they created had human hands and feet. Also boobs. If they went so far to cgi the actors with ears, fur, whiskers and a tail why not give them paws with claws instead of making them look like some horrible experiment from the Island of Dr Moreau? I understand the actors not having their feet and hands changed for the stage musical because that’s practicality but this is a movie where you can push the envelope further.

    Felis Catus they were not, lol. Maybe it would have done better as an animated feature for kids?

    Hey visual effects society, just have a laugh about it like everyone else…