Whatever your feelings are about the fever dream that is the upcoming Cats movie, you might have assumed that it cost a pretty penny to make its starring actors look like freakish humanoid feline hybrids and create those unusual sets. According to a new report, not only would you be correct with that assessment, you probably undershot the total cost, as allegedly Cats’ budget nearly reached $300 million.
According to a report from The Guardian, Cats is estimated of having a budget of around £230 million, which converts to approximately $297 million. Now keep in mind, this number is by no means official, so don’t go touting it as such just yet. It’s usually after a movie comes out that its budget is unveiled, though there’s no guarantee that’ll happen with Cats.
But if this is correct, Universal certainly spared no expense with its cinematic adaptation of the popular Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which in turn was inspired by the 1939 poetry collection Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot. Interestingly enough, it still wouldn’t rank as the most expensive movie ever made.
Thus far the movie that’s come with the biggest price tag is 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, with the adjusted total adding up to around $378.5 million. If Cats did indeed cost around $297 million to make, that would rank it at sixth place on the adjusted for inflation list, trailing behind 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Justice League, both of which cost around $300 million, and 2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story, which cost somewhere between $275 million, and that’s not even accounting for post-production work.
Needless to say that Universal took a big risk if it dropped that much money on Cats. For one thing, while it’s been a Broadway mainstay for decades, Cats isn’t necessarily an incredibly popular property to the general public. Even more important, it’s opening the same day as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which we can logically assume will draw in a lot of people and likely be crowned the box office king that weekend.
Again, we don’t know for sure if $297 million is Cats’ finalized budget, but even if it’s more in $200-$250 million territory, it’ll be an uphill battle for Universal to break even on this one, let alone make a profit. Still, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opened opposite Star Wars: The Last Jedi two years ago and it became a surprise commercial hit. Maybe Cats will end up following suit.
Directed by Tom Hooper, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Lee Hall, Cats follows a tribe of felines called the Jellicles over the course of a single night as they decide which among them will ascend to the Heavenside Layer and be reborn. Its all-star cast includes James Corden, Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Jason Derulo, Rebel Wilson and newcomer Francesca Hayward.
Cats opens in theaters on December 20, and if you’re curious about what other movies are coming out before the year is over, look through our 2019 release schedule.