“You can’t fire me, it’s my money,” Banks says calmly, weathering Jamie’s wrath. “Beside we have just two weeks before our Christmas release date and as far as I can tell you have 25 minutes shot.” Jamie and Patrick squint at Banks and ask if it can be pushed back, but Banks shakes his head. Whatever they have will be going out, so they better get their lazy asses into gear and find 2 hours of footage from somewhere, with or without the crew they just fired. Using dream sequences and flashbacks cut from previous entries in the series they get up to about an hour, but they begin to panic. “What about public domain footage?” Patrick asks, but even having Rich and Poe sing Happy Birthday to each other while watching an entire episode of The Three Stooges only gets them so far. Suddenly, while lazing away their remaining days on their helicopter cruise ships, Jamie has a brilliant idea to get the last 45 minutes of film. “Patrick! You have a beautiful mind, right?” Patrick shrugs, duh. “Well why don’t you put that beautiful noggin to work and craft some sweet AI computer magic to bring our vision to life!” Patrick agrees and gets down to coding. Mere hours before the premier they get their finished film in the can and ready for the show. Jamie and Patrick are beaming. Despite the many roadblocks they persevered and their vision is complete. The theater hushes and the lights dim and a gasp arises from the audience as the terrible, freakish computer generated figures of Rich and Poe dance eerily across the screen. Jamie looks at Patrick for an answer but Patrick can only shake his head and mutter, “I guess the AI decided to make us monster cats.” That’s right! For the final entry in the 2019 entry we decided to catch one final bonus BMT Live, given the Christmas release of one of the worst reviewed films of the year. Indeed we decided to watch Cats, the much reviled adaptation of the long-running hit musical. This also gives a little hint to the first cycle of next year. Let’s go!
Cats (2019) – BMeTric: 79.1; Notability: 34
(Incredibly BMeTric, which I guess makes sense given how much the internet hates his film. The notability is quite low, maybe because much of the cast is made up of dancers? Notability is somewhat depressed in the year of release because there are people who aren’t yet famous but will be in the future. I’ll have to run a study on it, but perhaps it is cut in half? It is hard to tell without looking at the data.)
RogerEbert.com – 2.5 stars – In 1939, T.S. Eliot published a book called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, filled with poems he had written about cats to amuse his godchildren. A far cry from The Waste Land, almost 20 years before, Eliot’s poems are sweet and sneakily profound, detailing different kinds of cats, their behaviors, personalities, and mysterious self-involvement. … There’s not nearly enough of that in “Cats,” but I enjoyed the film for what it is. It’s “London’s Got Talent” for the feline set.
(That is a really really positive review. I mean, relatively at least. I’ve heard inklings of “if you ignore the CGI the film is kind of good” coming from some places, it is just hard to tell how much of it is critics being contrarian after the fact.)
(This is the cleaned up trailer I think. There is another one which is truly mind-boggling. Like, Idris Elba’s face is kind of floating in the general vicinity of his creepy cat body it looks like. This looks mostly fine. It takes a lot of dancing cats and stuff for your brain to start rejecting it, although that is always a bad sign given that you have to watch 2 hours of dancing cats and stuff.)
Directors – Tom Hooper – (Known For: Les Misérables; The Danish Girl; The King’s Speech; The Damned United; BMT: Cats; Notes: Met the British director and producer Matthew Robinson through his father who was somehow involved with ITV in England. Via that connection he got work in television, and made the transition to major motion pictures from there.)
Writers – T.S. Eliot (poetry collection “Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats”) – (BMT: Cats; Notes: Was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1948 and is considered one of the greatest poets of modern times.)
Lee Hall (screenplay) – (Known For: Rocketman; Billy Elliot; War Horse; Victoria & Abdul; BMT: Cats; Notes: Also wrote the book for the musical adaptation of Billy Elliot.)
Tom Hooper (screenplay) – (BMT: Cats; Notes: The first writing credit he’s received since the short film he produced while in school.)
Andrew Lloyd Webber (musical) – (BMT: Cats; Notes: A titan of musical composition having developed Jesus Christ: Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Evita, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.)
Actors – Francesca Hayward – (BMT: Cats; Notes: Principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet in London. Took a sabbatical to make this film.)
Taylor Swift – (Future BMT: The Giver; BMT: Cats; Valentine’s Day; Notes: Y’all know Taylor. Reported to be worth over $300 million including nearly $100 million in real estate assets.)
Laurie Davidson – (Known For: The Good Liar; BMT: Cats; Vampire Academy; Notes: Got his start as William Shakespeare in the television show Will.)
Budget/Gross – $95,000,000 / Domestic: $22,950,935 (Worldwide: $43,450,935)
(So … first, the run isn’t over, there is, in theory, plenty of time to make some sweet cash. But, second, the rumor is the budget is in fact much higher than that given the issues with CGI and reshoots. Over twice as much even, which would be disastrous. We legitimately might have just witnessed Tom Hooper’s directing career end.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 21% (56/272): Despite its fur-midable cast, this Cats adaptation is a clawful mistake that will leave most viewers begging to be put out of their mew-sery.
(An absolute abomination of a critical consensus. For shame Rotten Tomatoes, for shame. Reviewer Highlight: Cats is terrible, but it’s also kind of great. – Stephanie Zacharek, TIME Magazine)
Poster – Sklogs (B+)
(I actually kind of like this. Very nice symmetry and color. Although makes the cats seem human size which, let me tell you, is not the case. Obviously also has that classic Cats font we all know and love.)
Tagline(s) – You will believe (C-)
(Nah. Way too generic. Seems more appropriate even for a sci fi picture which this… is, I guess. Not even sure what I’m supposed to be believing… that they actually made a major motion picture about Cats. At least it’s short.)
Keyword – based on stage musical;
Top 10: Cats (2019), Les Misérables (2012), Annie (1982), The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Mamma Mia! (2008), Dreamgirls (2006), Into the Woods (2014), Chicago (2002), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Little Shop of Horrors (1986);
Future BMT: 51.9 Fame (2009), 42.3 The King and I (1999), 37.6 Nine (2009), 20.9 Chorus Line (1985), 5.4 The Phantom of the Opera (2004);
BMT: Cats (2019)
(Pretty amazing that we’ve only seen one of these in the end. At the very least Fame should have been on our radar, with Nine being a close second. The 90s really were as bereft of musicals as it would seem. Newsies was supposed to be the big comeback for the West Side Story type major musical production, but instead it flopped. I would imagine the genre will eventually be relegated to streaming, headlined by musicians hoping to break into acting instead of the more rare triple threats like Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. Which might honestly be the prudent financial path in the end … musicals are really really hit-or-miss.)
Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 20) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Idris Elba is No. 5 billed in Cats and No. 7 billed in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 5 + 7 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 20. If we were to watch The Dark Tower, and Two for the Money we can get the HoE Number down to 16.
Notes – On December 21st 2019, a mere 2 days after its release, Universal Pictures announced they would be releasing a new version with updated CGI at an undisclosed time. (This was known prior to that, but it is still apparently unprecedented. It marks a major moment in both film and BMT history)
One week after its release, it was revealed by The Daily Mail that director Tom Hooper edited and re-cut the film after it was panned by many critics.
Dame Judi Dench was cast in the original 1981 London stage production in the dual roles of Jennyanydots and Grizabella. However, shortly before the opening of the original production, she suffered an injury that forced her to withdraw from the show, to be replaced at the last minute by Elaine Paige.
Was originally intended to be a traditionally animated movie before Tom Hooper came on board to direct. (Animated? Would make much more sense for actors in costume shrunk down if anything)
Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote new songs exclusively for the film. (Like Les Miz the new songs are probably terrible)
Universal Pictures originally planned to release Wicked (2021) on this release date. (Oh yeah, I heard this as well)
The cast attended “cat school” for preparation, according to Taylor Swift.
This is the first movie adaptation of “Cats” since the 1998 made-for-television BBC movie. (Which appears to just be a recording of the musical itself)
Andrew Lloyd Weber has had to fight off charges that he plagiarized “Memory”, which is said to be influenced by Ravel’s Bolero.
Tom Hooper’s second musical movie after Les Misérables (2012).