‘Cats’ screwed over its supporters to meet a deadline and it’s unacceptable

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Cats is now being shown with updated visual effects, which kind of sucks for the people who actually saw it on opening weekend.

A few days after the release of Cats in theaters, it was announced that an updated version of the film would be sent to movie theaters to replace the original. The new version would have “improved visual effects,” supposedly fixing some of the issues with the movie that was initially released.

Many fans who saw the movie in its opening weekend reported seeing human hands where paws should be, poorly CGI-pasted faces, feet going through the floor during dance numbers, and “a guy in a hoodie” in the background of a scene. On top of that, the movie just had an overall glossy sheen to it that appeared to literally be glazing over its flaws.

Cats has performed abysmally at the box office since its release, pulling in a meager $18 million worldwide after two weekends in theaters. With a $95 million budget, it’s easily one of, if not the biggest flop of the year.

The poor turnout is likely due to a combination of factors. These would be the negative response to the movie’s trailers, terrible reviews from both critics and audiences, and the fact that it opened opposite the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Cats, the movie that claims to be “the most joyful event of the holiday season,” has proved to be anything but.

While the movie certainly has many faults, one of the biggest ones is that director Tom Hooper admitted to “barely” finishing the movie before its December 16 premiere in New York City. Despite the release date being set long in advance, the final pieces were still being put into place just hours before the movie was shown to the public.

My question is, with countless obvious errors and an overall look that screams of how rushed it was, can he really say that the movie was “finished” at all? Is it fair to package a first draft as a finished product and market it as such?

I think the fact that Universal sent an updated version of the movie just days after its release, urging theaters to replace it as soon as possible, answers that question loud and clear. No, the movie was not finished, and as someone who did spend my time and money to see Cats on opening weekend, I feel disrespected by that fact.

While you don’t have a right to an enjoyable experience every time you go to the movie theater, there is a certain expectation of quality. Not every movie is for every movie-goer, and that’s okay, but the fact that a half-baked picture made its way into theaters disguised as a complete work is absurd and unacceptable.

Sure, many fans were scared away from this movie either by the bizarre trailers or a disinterest in the subject matter, but some hopeful viewers did make their way to the cinema, planning to be at least mildly entertained. While some of these people may have attended with a “let’s watch this dumpster fire burn” mentality, that likely doesn’t account for that many people spending their valuable resources on this movie.

So what did people go for? Well, for starters, the incredible cast of Cats kind of made it seem like a no-lose proposition. The stars reach from all levels and genres of fandom, creating a rare and unprecedented assembly of some of the biggest names in entertainment. From Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson to Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, Cats was dripping with both talent and star-power.

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Many fans, including myself, went out to see and support their favorite performer, or to experience them working as an ensemble, thinking “with all of that talent, it can’t be that bad.” Other fans, and perhaps the ones who matter most in this discussion, are those who went because they’re huge fans of the source material.

Is Cats my favorite musical? No. Definitely not. However, it is a long-running, well-known, and respected musical that means a lot to many theater fans. Like any beloved musical or play, it has a special place in the hearts of many who partake in theater, either as performer or attentive viewer.

Related: Cats review: The adaptation deserves to be the Jellicle choice

It might be the first musical you saw or appeared in. Maybe it was the first that you sang or danced a solo. Maybe, like almost any theater fan, you’re just obsessed with the iconic Andrew Lloyd Webber, who composed the music for Cats. Or maybe you just freaking love cats!

It doesn’t really matter why you love the musical or why you went to see it. What matters is that a piece of art was turned into a joke because it was rushed, and the people who actually supported Cats in its opening weekend are now getting screwed.

By updating the movie days after its release, the actual supporters of Cats are now forced to pay for the movie again or live with the incomplete “memory.” In order to meet a deadline, Universal and Tom Hooper have sent a message that those who voted for this movie with their time and money don’t matter.

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So what could they have done instead?

Yes, it’s rare for a movie to miss its release date, but it does happen. For reasons ranging from lack of confidence to world tragedies, movies get pulled and shuffled fairly regularly. As soon as the team behind Cats realized they wouldn’t be able to meet the agreed upon release date, they should’ve made a contingency plan for a new date.

If anything, that only would’ve helped the movie’s performance. Opening opposite the last movie in the Star Wars trilogy is all but a death sentence for any movie. Almost any other date would likely have helped its box office performance, even without the improved visual effects.

Alternatively, they could’ve released the new-and-improved version on DVD and digital for its home release. At the very least, this would avoid slighting fans who saw the movie on its opening weekend, and they could’ve taken even more time to improve the film.

They also could’ve pulled the movie from theaters all together and set another release date for an improved version. This would show that they respect fans and that they’re paying attention to the extremely valid critiques that Cats is receiving.

It’s really not fair for the cast that a rushed and hated version of the movie was released either, and with all that talent, I’m sure a better edit exists!

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Maybe none of this would’ve made viewers like Cats any better, but I can confidently say that none of these solutions would’ve made me feel as disrespected as I do now. And that’s something.

Universal was in such a hurry to get Cats out for the holiday season and awards contention that it ended up biting the only hands that fed it. Not only does this sour me against this adaptation of Cats, but it also makes me weary of future undertakings from the studio.

I expect better when I go to the movie theater, and I think my fellow movie-goers, and the cast of Cats also deserved better. Sure, the team behind Cats is ultimately paying the price for the transgression, but that offers small solace to those who actually supported this film.

Hopefully studios will learn from this mistake and think harder before rushing to meet a deadline that they’re not ready for in the future.

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