The Failure That is “Cats” the Movie


Bustopher Jones, played by James Corden, standing front and center with other cats in the back.

Nathalie Ceja Gomez, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Cats, the 2019 movie made at no one’s request and rejected by the internet, has met critical and financial failure.  The movie, based on the iconic (or infamous) 1980 musical of the same name, was released on December 16, 2019, and cost 100 million dollars to produce–excluding another 100 million for global advertising and other expenses. The movie, as of January 2020, has made only 75 million dollars; it’s estimated that Cats could be a 70 to 100 million loss for Universal Studios.

A terrifying shot of Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, the glamor cat.

This movie disaster began with the official Cats trailer, now with over two million views and more dislikes than likes, as it met great backlash from the internet. The internet was unsettled by the freakish CGI cat-human hybrids and confused by the large cast of A-list celebrities including: Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen, and Jennifer Hudson, who all agreed to sign on to this catastrophe.

Unlike the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, in which the internet’s disgusted outrage of Sonic’s character design caused studios to postpone the release date to fix the issues, Cats decided to continue without any changes. The movie was announced to be released around the same time as Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker as a way to appeal to the “young women audience” and hoped that Taylor Swift’s appearance and sonsg would appeal to her fans–yet none of the marketing helped the box office make more than the six million dollars it earned.

Universal Pictures
Bombalurina, played by Taylor Swift, uncomfortably staring at the camera.

Furthermore, even on opening day, the movie still had technical difficulties. CGI errors, including human hands instead of cat paws and human feet appearing like they were sinking into the ground, could be explained by the fact that the director, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech and Les Miserable), only finished editing the film hours before its premiere.

Though Universal Studios would release a version of the movie with the CGI mistakes fixed on December 22, 2019, this huge editing mistake gave an already skeptical audience another reason not to like the movie.

The poster for the “Cats” movie.

The response to the movie since the beginning was never good, so it made sense that critical reviews were just as bad.  Cats, currently, has a 20% on Rotten Tomato, a 2.8/10 on IMDb, and a 32% on Metallic. An IMDb user, AaronKyle1998, describes most people’s reaction best: “Absolutely nothing, including Judi Dench and Idris Elba, helped this film from being a total piece of garbage. Almost every scene is unbearable and the end result is one of the worst films of the decade.” Universal and Tom Hopper tried to make a film in which beloved actors and celebrities could show off their talent in an artistic way that also pays tribute to the work it was based on, but Cats was clouded by the uncanny valley-glitchy CGI, the failed marketing, and the simple fact that the general public did not want to see Cats.