In all the decades I’ve been watching the movie business, never before have I seen such an overwhelmingly negative backlash to a movie trailer. In fact, I’ve never seen anything close to the unified revulsion toward the upcoming musical Cats.
See if you can guess why…
The movie, which is scheduled for release this Christmas and directed by The King’s Speech Oscar-winner Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), is based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 Broadway smash of the same name. The stage production currently ranks as the fourth longest-running Broadway show in history, nearly 7500 performances, and was successfully revived in 2016 for 563 performances.
So it makes sense Hollywood would want to bring such a sure thing to the screen, and it has done so with stars Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, James Corden, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, and Ray Winstone. But…
Why adapt it as nightmare fuel?
This is what Cats looked like on stage: a funky, garish, vulgar, audacious thing that was perfect for theater in the go-go 80s.
The reactions to the three-minute trailer have been nothing short of hilarious, much more entertaining than the trailer itself:
“People – Sonic Trailer Looks Bad; Cat’s Trailer – Hold My Catnip.”
“So this is what the people in Bird Box were seeing…”
“Leaked footage of Elon Musk’s failed first attempt at creating cat girls.”
“Even furries reject this. Think about that. You monsters created something THAT EVEN FURRIES REJECT.”
“Hollywood….. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
“Excited for a high school kid with a flashlight to politely ask me to leave for laughing so loud.”
“WHAT. IS. HAPPENIIIIIING? (I’m scared)”
“If the cats are going to have boobs, they should have six boobs. And the song Jennifer Hudson screams her way through should be called ‘Mammaries.'”
“An army of MacGyvers wouldn’t be enough diffuse a bomb like this.”
The Island of Dr. Moreau comparisons are pretty astute. But that movie was supposed to freak you out, to horrify you at the thought of some mad scientist combining animal and human DNA to create monsters.
Dr. Moreau was a villain for creating his abominations. That movie was meant to be a cautionary tale, not a how-to for Hollywood.
Cats wants to be a star-studded Christmas musical, a combination of the box office smash and Oscar bait. The problem, though, is obvious: the filmmakers want to have their cake and eat it too, they want Big Stars in a movie but they don’t want to do the right thing creatively, which would be go all the way with the CGI and create actual cats. So we get this monstrously creepy hybrid complete with Jennifer Hudson’s over-singing.
A few complaints about the look of Sonic the Hedgehog’s teeth resulted in a three month delay to redesign the title character in that movie. That backlash was nothing compared to this one.
Do you know how many people work on a big-budget studio film of this size? Thousands, literally thousands. Knowing this allows us to imagine rooms full of people too scared to speak the obvious, too terrified to point to the elephant in the room.
I’ll leave you with some of the better Twitter reactions:
Stewie just saw the “Cats” trailer. pic.twitter.com/vNuYqa1TLl
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) July 19, 2019
— John E Williamson (@JohnEWilliamson) July 19, 2019
— Ida Funkhouser (@IdaFunkhouser) July 19, 2019
CATS trailer looks amazing! pic.twitter.com/vJAlGoNA0p
— Aliza (@AlizaCosplay) July 19, 2019
This is my personal favorite:
I showed my cat the Cats trailer. pic.twitter.com/tSGVi24Amk
— Janna Layton (@JKBartleby) July 19, 2019