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Andrew Lloyd Webber hated the 'Cats' movie as much as the rest of us. Here's why the film didn't exactly have the Broadway composer purring.

Andrew Lloyd Webber hated the ‘Cats’ movie: All the reasons why

The Cats movie was the looming omen to warn us of the impending disaster of 2020. The unnerving CGI alone should have been enough to tip us off that this cinematic abomination was a sign the natural order of the world was out of whack. 

It wasn’t just the public who found Cats to be as charming as a wet hairball, recently Andrew Lloyd Webber, the creator of the musical Cats, made his opinion known. Lloyd Webber criticized Cats director Tom Hooper for the film’s failure. Cats turned out to be one of the biggest box office bombs of 2019, earning scathing reviews & multiple Razzie Awards. Here are the reasons Cats didn’t land on its feet. 

Lost in translation

The source material for Cats, the film, has to come into play when searching for the reasons it failed. The musical itself is utterly bizarre – lacking a cohesive narrative as the story flits around from cat to cat and reveling in chaotic & surreal imagery. Cats is just really weird.

It begs the question – how did Cats the musical become a worldwide sensation? For one thing, it became big in the 80s, an era that reveled in larger-than-life aesthetics. Cats also is a fascinating musical to watch live on stage because of the spectacle & interaction it delivers to an audience expecting Broadway theatrics, something that couldn’t easily translate to the prepackaged nature of film.  

Failing to make the most of it

While the musical was outdated & lacking structure, the film did little to create a new experience. Cats yields an abundance of opportunity in its loose structure & bizarre tropes to create something engaging on screen. 

Instead, the Cats film looked stunted on screen, too restrained by some unseen shackles when it would have benefited from the freedom to be utterly silly rather than rigidly stylistic. 

Then the Cats CGI dipped deep into the uncanny valley with its “digital fur technology”. A lot of work went into making the actors look as much like cats as possible with Hooper advertising how intensely his digital effects team was working to create the film. The results were unnerving anthropomorphic creatures, dancing & interacting like humans while engulfed in poorly designed fur & whiskers

The songs ain’t it

The music of Cats isn’t anything to write home about, and ironically most of us can only really recall “Memory” as one of the musical numbers of a show that was on Broadway for eighteen years. The music is plodding, derivative, and just plain boring in many places. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber is known for having a clear loyalty to commercial success rather than artistic quality. It may be strange to think that a musical can become so successful with subpar music, but Cats is proof it’s possible. 

What Andrew Lloyd Webber had to say

Andrew Lloyd Webber took a blunt approach when he commented on the film Cats, calling it “ridiculous”. Webber called out Tom Hooper for the direction he took, saying, “The problem with the film was that Tom Hooper decided, as he had with Les Mis, that he didn’t want anybody involved in it who was involved in the original show.”

Lloyd Webber’s only real collaboration with Cats was the song he composed with Taylor Swift for the song titled “Beautiful Ghosts”. After Cats debuted and received pitiful reviews, many of its actors distanced themselves from the project including James Corden & Rebel Wilson who made fun of the film at the 2020 Oscars. 

Tom Hooper took the criticism all in stride, though he claimed he didn’t quite see why the public was so put off by Cats. Hooper stated, “I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal, and it was obviously much more of a big deal than I thought.”

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