Before Cats released their first trailer there were high-hopes for the musical at the box office. With an Oscar-winning director (Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech) before the camera, and stars such as Taylor Swift, James Corden, Idris Elba, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, and more in it, the film seemed like a can’t miss combination of talent. After the trailer came out however hopes started to dwindle thanks to the negative reactions to way the cast looked in their roles. Production even went back and edited the film afterwards, hoping their touch-ups could help save the already sinking ship. It didn’t help however, and now the film looks to be on its way to losing at least $71 million.
Cats costs approximately $90M to make, with another $115M budgeted for advertising. So far the film has only made $38M worldwide, and those numbers have slowed significantly since opening. Still, the film will make a little more during its theatrical release, and of course when it reaches homes via streaming, and BluRay purchases, it should earn back a little bit of its loses. That still leaves an estimated loss in the millions of dollars.
So what went wrong? After all the film seemed like a winner considering the stage production has earned nearly $4 billion worldwide. Well there are plenty of possibilities. First and foremost was of course the initial trailer. These days if something doesn’t catch people’s eyes, let alone have them complaining at the first glimpse of it, a film will have a hard time drawing people in. It could also be the fact that people don’t want to go to the movie theater and see actors dressed up like cats in the first place. Sure it may work on the stage, but the big screen is an entirely different beast. It might have actually have worked better as an animated feature, but then they would have run into the issue of adults not taking it seriously and avoiding it. There was of course also the problem with critics ripping the film apart. While critical reviews are not the end of every film, when something is universally panned it has a hard time doing well. One thing that is definitely not an issue is the fact that it is a musical. After all there have been plenty of musicals in the last few years that have done well.
What all this tells us is that some things just can’t be translated to the big screen. It doesn’t matter how good the director is, or how big the cast is, if people don’t want to see singing cats on the screen, they won’t go see them.