While Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is dominating the headlines as it posts an opening box-office number of $195 million, Cats is drawing everyone's attention and not for good reasons either. Universal is now faced with the reality of having the single greatest box-office flop of 2019 and perhaps of the last decade. Rather than back down the number of theaters, the film is in, Universal has decided to throw even more money at this issue. According to "The Hollywood Reporter", theaters were notified that an improved version of Tom Hopper's film would be available for download as early as this past Sunday morning. Here's why this is just the studio grasping at straws.
According to Variety, Tom Hopper didn't finish Cats until hours before the actual premiere. The article quotes Hopper as stating he spent 36 straight hours tweaking the film until the morning of the premiere. This is after so many months of post-production work and as the article states, he seemed genuinely pleased with the final product. So now after almost two weeks, and the prospects of Universal's big feature adaptation bombing, it's all because the look of the film is off. Perhaps there's more to this problem than meets the eye.
Changing the look of the film isn't going to change how the film's narrative is crafted. Let's just say for argument's sake that the cats now look so amazing, how is that going to change how the story connects the audience from one song to the next? In order to attract more people to see the film, there has to be some sort of hook. The film is listless and quite boring. What this amounts to is nothing more than an attempt to save face and hopefully salvage a sinking ship.
The bigger issue that no one seems to be addressing is how it seems that studios are releasing incomplete films to the general public with the hopes of making up for it during the DVD release. Has anyone not noticed the uptick in the number of releases with a director cut. Midsommar and Doctor Sleep come to mind. Have we now entered an age where tinkering with these releases is acceptable? It sure seems that way. How else can you explain Judi Dench's hands in Cats being completely human and being able to see her wedding ring? How else can you explain that after Universal claims it sent this new copy of the film, most theaters are still showing the same film from opening night?
It's amazing that at one point Universal actually considered Cats to be a major awards contender. Now they seem to have come to their senses. Taking one of the more vilified musicals of all time and allowing Tom Hooper to adapted was a recipe for disaster but the implication of the "release it now, patch it later" mentality has severely damaged AAA gaming. Now it's movies turn to grapple with this way of thinking and it doesn't look good.