The Terrible Domestic Run of Cats: a Postmortem


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It was hard to avoid the controversy and constant bashing of the newest CGI-driven movie Cats that was criticized and beaten to death by critics and fans alike. It seems that never before the community of professional critics and the fandom collided to sing in unison unlike the characters of the horrible movie Cats. After just eight weeks in the theaters, the adaptation of the long-running musical created by Lloyd Webber three decades ago managed to come to a sad conclusion without a loud crescendo.

Universal is a studio that took many risks over the course of the last decade and managed to live through a couple of huge box office bombs. However, the domestic run of Cats was more than just miserable. It managed to collect only $27 million in the US and about $74 million worldwide. Usually, holiday releases manage to hold on for multiple weeks like Jumanji and The Greatest Showman with both movies having impressive runs and amassing huge numbers in the box office territory.

For example, Les Miserables managed to gather over $440 million with $148 million coming from the US theaters.

The horrible numbers seem even more devastating for the studio when compared to other adaptations of musicals. For example, Les Miserables managed to gather over $440 million with $148 million coming from the US theaters. While not mind-boggling, these numbers are quite good especially for a budget under $70 million. Cats were more expensive to make (which is not evidenced by the actual product quality and otherworldly design and artistic choices). 

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Sad predictions of bombing hard were noticeable during the initial marketing when the first images of Cats appeared on the internet. Moviegoers were appalled by the outlandish and weird CGI costumes worn by actors. The trailer only made it worse for the studio as the audience was still in shock of what they were witnessing. There were some people who tried to defend the movie and suggested waiting until it was released. Well, it was.

Despite multiple reshoots and additional budget for the CGI department, the movie looked awful. People who went to see the movie were not happy and started bashing on the film right after leaving the theater. Critics were not impressed either and turned the cinematic musical into a dead horse long before it was actually dead. Big aspirations of the cast and the crew behind the cameras were optimistic, to say the least. Even visual effects became the laughing stock at the Oscars.

The production budget of the movie is $95 million without accounting for marketing costs and potential reshoots. With a meager box office haul of $74 million, the movie is expected to suffer losses in the range between $70 and $100 million.


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