When the first trailer for Cats dropped online in July, the internet went wild. The film adaptation of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit Broadway musical was subjected to a flurry of excitement, ridicule and Twitter memes – and director Tom Hooper has finally spoken out about the trailer’s reception.
“I was just so fascinated because I didn’t think it was controversial at all”, said Hooper (who also directed 2012’s Les Misérables), in an interview with Empire magazine. “So it was quite entertaining. Cats was apparently the number-one trending topic in the world, for a good few hours at least.”
The furore proved excellent exposure for the film, which boasts a high-profile cast including Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen and Rebel Wilson. And – what’s more – the way people reacted to the trailer’s creepy-looking cat people apparently helped shape the work of the film’s special effects team.
“We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage”, Hooper said. “Possibly there were, in the extremity in some of the responses, some clues in how to keep evolving.”
“When you watch the finished film, you’ll see that some of the designs of the cats have moved on since then, and certainly our understanding of how to use the technology to make them work has gone up, too.”
It’s not the first time in recent years that a trailer has come under fire for its unsightly visual effects. CGI is typically one of the last things to complete in a film’s production schedule, so trailers, which must debut months before the film’s release, typically cannot show the finished product.
The upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie was delayed by three months while its computer-animated protagonist underwent a complete redesign, due to the public’s allergic reaction to the Sonic seen in the trailer – at a cost of millions of dollars.
The Cats redesign doesn’t sound anywhere near as extensive, but it’s still another example of a way in which internet feedback is starting to change the film-making process.
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Cats is released in UK cinemas on Friday, 20th December 2019