After Universal Pictures’ new film “Cats” was clawed and torn to shreds by critics last week, the studio told movie theaters on Friday that it would be sending a new version of the film with “some improved visual effects.”
The move of replacing a film already in theaters with an “improved” version is unheard of But according to a copy of a memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, director Tom Hooper has been upfront about the fact that he barely finished the CGI on the film in time for the world premiere in New York City last week, and the switch is at his request.
Critics have disparaged “Cats,” which stars Francesca Hayward, Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson and Idris Elba, among others. The film received a C+ CinemaScore and was slapped with a 19% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The updated film is expected to be available for cinemas to download on Sunday via a satellite server, but for exhibitors that don’t have access to the server, they are expected to receive a hard drive by Tuesday, according to Universal. The studio is asking that theaters replace the current print of Cats as soon as possible.
Universal didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment
TheWrap’s Robert Abelle called “Cats” painful.
“Tom Hooper’s jarring fever dream of a spectacle is like something that escaped from Dr. Moreau’s creature laboratory instead of a poet’s and a composer’s feline (uni)verse, an un-catty valley hybrid of physical and digital that unsettles and crashes way more often than it enchants,” he wrote in TheWrap’s review of the film.
“Cats” has earned just $2.6 million at the domestic box office so far and is projected for just an $8 million opening from 3,380 screens, against a reported production budget of $95 million before tax incentives.