We have been hearing about Cats for a week, the musical film based on the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber in terms that possibly are not what those responsible would have liked. For starters, the first criticisms were devastating. Demolishingly creative: sometimes it seemed that we were reading a Lovecraft story, the testimonies of those who have seen each other in the presence of the great Cthulhu and have begun to lose their sanity.
"How crazy is' Cats'? At one point, a friend sitting next to me literally dropped down the seat and groaned 'Paraaaaaad! Paraaaaaad !.' Cats' had broken his mind, now and forever, "he said ScreenCrush critic Matt Singer. "Real data: I went back home after watching 'Cats' and I couldn't look my own cat in the face for a good one or two hours," Jen Yamato claimed, from LA Times. "A hypnotically ugly fiasco that makes you feel as if your brain has been devoured by a parasite"sentenced Robbie Collin of Telegraph. This, among many other maddening reactions.
The box office of its premiere weekend (where Universal chose to compete no less than with 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker') has been disastrous. Deadline calls its "calamity" its Ridiculous 6.5 million dollars of collection, well below its already modest 15 million to which the forecasts pointed. Universal's musical adaptations usually work, as demonstrated by bombs like 'Mamma Mia' or 'Los miserables'. The four billion dollars raised by 'Cats' since its premiere in 1981, becoming the fourth longest-running Broadway musical of all time, seemed a guarantee of success.
The problem of the effects
The funny thing is that, on paper, the film was not badly raised: plot and songs have proven their effectiveness on Broadway, there are pop stars to attract younger audiences (Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo), and prestigious names like Jennifer Hudson , Judi Dench, Ian McKellen or Idris Elba. The problem has undoubtedly been the special effects, which far from betting on attractiveness camp of disguising people from carnival cats or throwing themselves in irons for pure animation, have chosen CGI engenders that reveal the faces of the original interpreters.
As production progressed, rumors were coming that 'Cats' could be headed for disaster: a trailer was scheduled to accompany the premiere of the reboot from 'The Lion King', but there was no success. Tom Hooper, Oscar winner for 'The King's Speech', signatory of the aforementioned 'Les Misérables' and the prestigious 'The Danish Girl', I was retouching the editing and the effects the same night of the preview of the movie in New York on December 16th.
But the lace came with the unusual decision of Universal, as The Hollywood Reporter reports, that Once the movie is released, a version with special effects retouched will be redistributed. On the same day of the premiere, Universal sent a note informing the rooms that they would receive a version of 'Cats' with the enhanced effects. This is an unprecedented movement that demonstrates to what extent the production of 'Cats' has been chaos (the good part, although possibly not very honorable for Universal: 'Cats' has all the ballots to become a cult film which we will continue talking about for years).
A few months ago we saw how the movie of 'Sonic the Hedgehog' retouched the design of its protagonist hedgehog to adapt to the requests of the public, a decision also relatively unusual and with a dangerous point, but the case is different. Paramount has every legitimate right, wrong with it or not, to adapt while it is being produced to what he perceives to be public reactions. This step that has taken 'Cats' is something that until now we had only seen in video games, where you can find failures in the launches that have gone unnoticed by the testing teams.
In theory, the new movie will hit theaters today and we'll know if the corrections are notable (among the rumors: claws for cats instead of human hands) or are simply minimal touch-ups. In any case, it opens a path for the cinema favored by digital distribution, since a decision of this caliber would have been logistically impossible in celluloid times. After versions retouched by George Lucas from 'Star Wars' or the director's cut often destined for the domestic market (creative decisions that soon became commercial events), could this be the first step towards a future of mutant and never definitive films?