When the first trailer for Tom Hooper's Cats dropped last July, it immediately became the target of immense ridicule. The design of the characters – basically cat/human hybrids – freaked a lot of people out, and the issues didn't go away between the time that preview went live and when the finished film was released. (And no, the post-release visual effects edits didn't help either).
Surprise, surprise, though: things could have actually been much worse. As disturbing as a good amount of Cats is, I'm not sure that anything matches the level of horror show that is this recently released concept art that is featured on the film's home video special features:
Were people seriously surprised when this movie bombed?
Today marks the release of Cats on digital platforms, meaning that people can watch the Razzie-winning oddity in the comfort of their homes during quarantine, and Twitter user Angelina Christina has unearthed this truly disturbing bit of artwork from the special features. I can't really tell you what its intention is, or exactly what it turned out to be in the finished movie, but I can tell you that I don't understand how someone could look at it while the film was being made and think that the production was on a good track.
At the same time, my brain is making me think: What if they actually made the finished film with this specific and terrifying aesthetic for all the characters? Would it have been better than what we got? Could it have been much worse?
More seriously, this movie is certainly now set up to become a legendary status cult movie. Sure, there are always going to be some people who always have a genuine love for it, as everybody in the world has their own tastes, but there are going to be far more who "hate-watch" it and find entertainment in just tearing it apart. Surely none of this will line up with director Tom Hooper's original vision of what Cats would be, but at least he can hopefully be proud that he made something with a deep cultural impact.
All that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Cats ultimately performs on the home video market. The film definitely didn't do well in theaters, making only $74 million worldwide on a $95 million budget (before marketing and publicity), but audiences may be struck with curiosity they need to satiate with the film being instantly available with just a few button clicks. Plus, people are going to be starving for novel entertainment as we get deeper and deeper into this period of social distancing/quarantine, so that could wind up being incentive to check out the musical trainwreck.
If you choose to take the plunge, Cats is available at all the standard digital retailers now. And for those of you waiting for physical media copies, the film will be available on Blu-ray and DVD starting April 7th.