Box office cats-tastrophe: Cats projected to lose $70m

Cats appears set to make movie hiss-tory – as a major box office failure for Universal Pictures.

The critically panned film, which had a reported budget of $95m (£72m), made only $6.62m (£5m) during its opening weekend and is projected to lose Universal at least $70m (£53m), the LA Times reports – while Deadline reports the project could lose at least $71m (£54m) and Variety reports it could lose up to $100m (£76m). This would make the film one of the biggest box office flops of 2019.

The news comes after Universal hit the brakes on its Oscars campaign for Cats, quietly pulling the film from its “for your consideration” page.

Meanwhile, the film’s own stars are distancing themselves. During an interview, James Corden, who plays Bustopher Jones, admitted he has not seen the film and “heard it’s terrible”. Before the film’s premiere, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson repeatedly emphasized how they had not seen the film and signed on “for the journey”.

Failure at the box office is likely to come as a surprise to Universal. As industry experts point out, movie musicals have become cash-cows for studios in recent years. Bohemian Rhapsody earned over $900m(£680m) globally, Les Misérables $441m (£333m), and The Greatest Showman, a sleeper hit, $435m (£329m).

Such past successes make it clear that Cats has failed to connect with audiences, or at least not in a good way. Negative reviews of the film, however, have become almost an art form.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw skewered the film in a review written completely in verse (taking inspiration from the poetry of TS Eliot, the source material for Cats). He writes: “As they gaze at the greenscreen and sashay and crawl/ It’s weird to behold them all gurning and acting/And why do so many resemble Darth Maul?” Other critics have described it as “a descent into madness” and a “sight no humans should see”.

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Overall, Cats’ chances of redemption do not look paw-sitive.


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