It cost $100 million to CGI six billion very unrealistic cat hairs onto Dame Judi Dench’s human body, and yet even that spectacle—and a week of Cats-related posts on Jezebel—couldn’t convince moviegoers to turn out.
Variety reports that Tom Hooper’s absolutely deranged movie musical made only $6.5 million domestically in its opening weekend, far behind the $15 million Universal Studios, which backed this madness, had expected. It did even worse overseas, making only $4.4 million in Ireland and the U.K., the ancestral home of Cats creator Andrew Lloyd Webber and several of the CGI-ed Cats, like this one. Not great, Bob.
Universal, for its part, seems to be trying to keep up appearances. Per Variety:
Females represented over 50% of opening weekend crowds, while 55% of ticket buyers were between the ages of 18 and 44. Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, pointed out that older patrons don’t traditionally rush out to theaters on opening weekend.
“That audience will very much enjoy Tom Hooper’s take on this fantastical tale as Christmas and the holidays roll out,” Orr said. “He really did create something that’s visually very fun and entertaining.”
On the one hand, Cats is an absolute mess, one not even a haphazard last minute patch could fix, and when I saw it in theaters on Saturday afternoon, five separate groups of people walked out. On the other hand, I laughed so hard during Cats I popped a blood vessel, and 36 hours later, my friends and I are still texting each other things like, “Remember when Ian McKellen drank the milk?” and “But is a cat a dog?” and “Will Idris Elba ever work again, do you think?” All of this is to say, I considered Cats an immensely enjoyable viewing experience, much more so than the new Star War, which made $176 million domestically, but was very bad.
Does this mean I think you should buy a ticket to Cats? Probably not, as I feel strongly that Tom Hooper should receive absolutely no positive reinforcement for this calamity, lest he try to remake 1776 with an anthropomorphic Declaration of Independence played by Christopher Plummer decorated with CGIed ink. But, again, there are worse things you could to spend $18.50 on, so.