When a movie flops, Hollywood is always quick to point the finger. Maybe it was the fault of the publicity department, or the timing of the release date, or even the unenlightened audience. In the case of Cats, a much-maligned disaster that has lost almost $100 million globally, it seems far-fetched to point the finger at just one thing, yet the narrative Cats cast members seem to be running with is that poor visual effects are to blame for the film’s failure. Now, a viral tweet indicates that visual effects artists who worked on the project won’t take the criticism lying down.
At Sunday night’s Oscars, James Corden and Rebel Wilson appeared in costume as their Cats characters, Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones, to present the award for Best Visual Effects. “As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” they quipped, before handing the award over to the team behind 1917.
However, one visual effects designer who worked on Cats isn’t laughing. Yves McCrae, Who Worked for Moving Pictures company, a VFX studio that worked on Cats, clapped back at the actors.
McCrae’s frustration comes on the heels of a blistering statement from the Visual Effects Society, which was angry to be implicated as the cause of the film’s failure.
Last night, in presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie CATS. The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly. On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.
Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh. Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects – and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing – because we all deserve it.
Director Tom Hooper reportedly made changes to the film up to 36 hours before its premiere. Asked about strong reactions to the film’s effects, Hooper said, “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. Reading some of the commentary was pretty entertaining.”
Though Cats is bleeding money around the globe, reports indicate that it may have a second life as a cult classic screened for rowdy midnight audiences, Rocky Horror Picture Show style. We have just one remaining question—what in God’s name is a jellicle?