- Directed By: Tom Hooper
- Written By: Tom Hooper, Lee Hall
- Release Date: December 20, 2019
- Domestic Distributor: Universal
- Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $95 million||Financed by: Universal; Working Title; Perfect World Pictures|
|Domestic Gross: Still in release||Overseas Gross: Still in release|
Steven Spielberg’s Amblin production outfit had an animation offshoot called Amblimation which was formed in 1989 and they optioned the rights to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats in 1990. The project stalled after about 6 months of development and Amblimation then shifted its focus to the animated dog film Balto, which became a box office disaster. A few years later they attempted to get Cats into production with a 1997 release planned, but again the project fell apart and Amblimation was shuttered later in 1997.
More than 15 years later, producer Debra Hayward (of Monumental Pictures) brought the idea of turning the stage production of Cats into a live action feature to the Universal owned UK company Working Title — and active development began on this creative disaster. Working Title partnered with their parent company Universal to finance and produce. China based Perfect World Pictures also contributed coin to the production, which has a slate financing arrangement with Universal. The net budget for Cats was reported at $95 million.
Working Title heads Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner had said there was 3 years of development spent on the digital fur vfx to transform the actors into these freakish felines. Another 3 years could have helped, because once the trailer for Cats dropped on July 18, 2019 the public response was overwhelmingly negative and the film was shaping up to be a punchline.
Cats was dated for December 20, 2019 as a major holiday end of the year event release. Universal spent far north of $100M to advertise this trainwreck globally and despite the online backlash, there were still some signs of life in the movie’s tracking. The picture was tracking in the US for an opening near $20M and a decent sized multiplier was expected throughout the holiday season. This was afterall a globally recognized property that spent 18 years on Broadway and pulled in about $4 billion in worldwide revenue.
Not only did Cats have poorly rendered nightmare inducing visuals and abysmal reviews, but it opened into a very competitive Christmas frame against Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It would also compete for a slice of the family market against the holdovers Jumanji: The Next Level and Frozen II. Cats was dead on arrival with $6,619,870 — placing #4 for the frame led by Star Wars.
Its longevity in theaters was destined to be fleeting after auds gave the movie a dreadful C+ Cinemascore and the family film was turning into a midnight movie where curious moviegoers widely reported their experiences watching this disaster high on psychedelics. A few days after the humiliating opening, Universal sent out an updated version of the picture with “improved visual effects,” as if reducing the ‘so bad it’s entertaining’ quality will appeal to more of the public. Cats faded from theaters quickly and looks to close its domestic run with only $27M. More after the stateside run ends…
Cats has also mostly exhausted its overseas run, where the numbers sit at an awful $33.2M. A few markets remain to open throughout February. Cats is expected to lose nearly $100M. More after the offshore run ends…