The Cats movie opened on 20 Dec, and to say it did not go down well would be an incredible understatement. However, within tsunami of criticism were comments on the unfinished-looking special effects – it aimed to join the ranks of the best 3D movie effects (opens in new tab) in 2019 and missed, badly. So egregious were the errors, that on the day of release, Universal notified thousands of cinemas that it would be sending out a new version of the film with updated CGI, in a move that is 'unheard of' for a film that's already been released.
The news comes via a memo obtained by the The Hollywood Reporter, which detailed: "The updated movie will be available to download Sunday via a satellite server, while exhibitors who don't have access to the server will receive a hard drive by Tuesday, per Universal's note. The studio is asking that theaters replace the current print of Cats as soon as possible." Ouch.
- Cheap Disney Plus subscription is the best last-minute Christmas gift (opens in new tab)
Since the story broke, movie-goers have been taking to social media to share some of the VFX clunkers that made it into the original film (see our roundup of the worst CGI fails (opens in new tab) for more awkward errors). Jenelle Riley tweeted (opens in new tab) the image above with the comment: "This isn’t a joke: CATS was rushed into theaters before being finished so a new version is being sent to theaters with updated effects. How do you know if you have the old version? Look for Judi Dench’s human hand, wedding ring and all."
"[It's] just not finished... I witnessed an entire man, knit cap and coat, just standing in a scene among a gathering of cats. I saw a terrifying grey statue looming over a character, only for it to blink and realise it’s a woman who is a cat, but they coloured her and then forgot to add fur," reported Gizmodo (opens in new tab).
Another Twitter user shared a screengrab – taken from the official trailer, nonetheless – that shows Rebel Wilson's Jennyanydots with a similarly un-cat-like hand-in-sleeve situation (read our take on the Cats trailers here (opens in new tab)).
Cats Tom Hooper has been open about the last-minute rush to get all the effects finished in time. At the movie's premiere he announced he'd finished just hours beforehand, following a 36-hour final push.
It's not the first CGI scandal of 2019, either. Earlier in the year, the huge backlash (opens in new tab) prompted by the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer prompted Paramount to go back to the drawing board and redesign the titular character (opens in new tab) in double-quick time, which may or may not have contributed to the VFX studio behind the film having to close its doors (opens in new tab).
And while it seems, from the almost unanimous critical mauling (opens in new tab) Cats is getting, that unfinished VFX isn't the sum of this movie's problems, it does seem another clear sign that if you're going to make a movie where CG plays such a pivotal role, it's vital to afford the team the time and resources to develop and complete that element properly.
[Read the original Hollywood Reporter article (opens in new tab)]
- Lion King character redesigns highlight the problem with realistic CGI (opens in new tab)
- 35 greatest CGI movie moments of all time (opens in new tab)
- The best 3D modelling software 2020 (opens in new tab)