'Cats' Is Getting A Visual Effects Update After Disastrous First Weekend

Only a few days after the film's premiere, Cats is being updated with improved visual effects, an almost unheard of decision for a movie already in release, according to The Hollywood Reporter. On Friday, Universal Studios sent a memo to theaters stating a new version of Tom Hooper's adaptation of Cats would be sent with "some improved visual effects," according to THR. Hooper reportedly requested the changes, despite it being an unusual move for a finished title already in theaters.

Earlier in the year, the trailer for Cats received instant notoriety on Twitter, and the backlash was enough for Hooper to rework the majority of the film. In early December, Hooper said the fan reaction "was insane" but he did think "there were lessons to be learnt" in an interview with the Sunday Times. The director, best known for Academy-Award winner The King's Speech, continued, "I never intended, obviously, to make people feel uneasy, so I thought, ‘If this is being commented upon, then what can I learn from it?'" Cats, an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical of the same title, received a reworking before release, with a large focus on making sure the actor's faces were not lost in the special effects.

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Despite last-minute efforts to improve the film, Cats brought in only $2.6 million in ticket sales on Friday, a disastrous opening for a film with a near $100 million budget. Critics have not received the film well, with Cats receiving a C+ Cinema Score, despite the all-star cast which includes Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, James Corden, Idris Elba, and Jason Derulo.

The movies' visuals were criticized in particular, with one review by The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney calling the characters' appearance "generally off-putting" and also "damn creepy." Rooney also noted the logistical discrepancies in the animation, with certain cats proportions being wrong in comparison to the environment. He wrote, "Sometimes they go from appearing minuscule to giant-size within the same scene." Another more generous reviewer wrote Cats took "ambitious swings" and the campy visuals made it so, "everything ludicrous about the show has been cranked up to 11" in IndieWire.

The updated version of Cats will be made available to distributors on Sunday via Satellite server, according to IndieWire, and changes will not impact the run-time of the movie, which is 1 hour and 49 minutes. Universal Studios is reportedly asking theaters to replace the current print of the film as soon as possible. Meanwhile, fans will have to make their own decision about whether or not the new update has improved film's uncanny valley visuals.