In news that might shock (“Cats had an Oscar campaign?”) initially and then make sense upon reflection, Universal Pictures has decided to cease pushing Tom Hooper’s Cats for consideration at the upcoming 2020 Academy Awards.
Originally pushed by the studio for the film’s effects work, which transformed the likes of Idris Elba and Judi Dench into furry, anthropomorphic cat-people, Universal is no longer featuring the film on its “for your consideration” page, instead promoting films like Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zonelike horror film Us and the latest entry in the How to Train Your Dragon series.
The withdrawal should hardly come as a shock for Cats, with the film absolutely tanking with critics (our own Jesse Lab called it “a titanic failure of biblical proportions”) following months of social media ridicule. The film even released to theaters on its December 20th public premiere date incomplete, with theaters being sent updated files of an edit of the film featuring improved visual effects. Meanwhile the Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation still tanked on its opening weekend at the box office, raking in $6.5 million domestically against its estimated production budget of $95 million.
Regardless of the mess that Cats became, it’s a shame when considering the effort that was poured into it, with director Tom Hooper allegedly spending a straight 36 hours putting the final touches on the edit, mere hours before its critic premiere on December 16th.
But, that in mind, it makes you wonder how a film like this–so blatantly and loudly decried by the Internet and audiences as a failure waiting to happen–could get this far along with so much money and talent involved. Making movies can take dozens of people. Making something as large-scale as Cats can take hundreds of people. Did no one see the writing on the eerily-lit walls?