‘Cats’: What Happened?

Holly Hessner and Alana John

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On December 20th, 2019, the feature film “Cats” was released to theatres. During its opening weekend, it was crushed by a flurry of detest from reviewers and moviegoers alike. An anonymous Ward Melville student said, “I went into the theatre with an open mind even though I heard it was bad. I figured it would be at least funny bad, but it was just terrible. Like, rip my eyes, ears, and face off bad.” 

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical depicts the lives of many different cats, called Jellicle cats, who perform songs at the Jellicle Ball in order to decide who must ascend to the Heaviside Layer, or Heaven, for a renewed life.

Sophomore John Coupe said that the movie was “so bad that it was hard to watch.” It is interesting how a movie coupled with a 95 million dollar budget and such a high-profile cast of actors including the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Idris Elba, and Taylor Swift ended up being so unsuccessful. Out of that 95 million dollar budget, on its opening weekend, “Cats” made a meager 6.5 million dollars.

Some reviewers, such as Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz, conveyed the unsettling CGI incorporated within the film, and said, “The fur breasts that distracted us in the trailers are at least subdued. Everyone’s digitally androgynous, as if baby’s first Photoshopper had a little too much fun with the smoothing tool, though some are smoother than others.” The AV Club’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky elaborated, saying, “Many of these effects appear unfinished, with noticeable differences in resolution and animation between principals and background characters.” 

Yet while the animations were regarded to be incredibly disturbing, perhaps the fact that many people dislike “Cats” is the storyline itself. The musical, which premiered on Broadway in 1982, was successful for the most part, however many attendees found the plot to be overwhelming and confusing. The NY Times attributed the musical’s unpopular storyline to, “the entire show’s lack of spine.” 

Time will tell if Hollywood will ever produce another remake of “Cats” that appeals to more audiences, or perhaps this iteration of the story has scared artists to create anything involving the “Cats” story in the future.