It’s rare that anything in the Year of Our Lord 2019 brings all of us together, which is why the debut of the Cats trailer earlier this year remains one of the highlights of the past 12 months. What glorious madness is this? Is Judi Dench wearing a coat made of her own fur? Why is Jason Derulo yelling? No, why is Jason Derulo in this? So many questions, so few answers, but so much fun to discuss.
At the end of the day, however, Cats is a very real feature film—and an expensive one at that. Universal Pictures put a lot of money into the “digital fur technology” to bring this musical to life onscreen, and Oscar-winning The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper insists that what we saw in that trailer is not the finished product.
“I was just so fascinated because I didn’t think it was controversial at all,” he says. “So it was quite entertaining. Cats was apparently the number-one trending topic in the world, for a good few hours at least.”
And while Hooper maintained the effects weren’t finished, he also revealed that the response to the trailer did inform the final touches on how the titular felines were digitally created:
“We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage,” he explains. “Possibly there were, in the extremity in some of the responses, some clues in how to keep evolving [the production]. 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.”
This marks a bit of a trend, as backlash to the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer spurred Sony Pictures to rework the design of the main character, only for the redesign to be met with approval from fans. A rare and curious thing.
But it’s not as if fans were mad that the cats in Cats didn’t look enough like “the source material.” It’s just that it’s… well, it’s weird-lookin’. I have no idea if Cats will be good or not—the last time Hooper took a big swing on a musical we got the gritty version of Les Miserables—but I’m certainly curious to see what in the wide world of sports this movie is.
We’ll all find out together when the film hits theaters on December 20th.