If there is a film trailer Hall of Shame, 2019 would have had several inductees. However, for as bad as the first “Aladdin” trailer was, or the initial glimpse at “Sonic the Hedgehog,” the early “Cats” preview will likely go down as one of the worst-received trailers of the last decade, and sparked massive mocking blowback. No matter who you ask, that trailer was either laughably bad, downright creepy, or both. But for filmmaker Tom Hooper, he’s just happy that people were talking about his new film at all.
Speaking to Empire, Hooper was asked about the reaction to the first “Cats” trailer, and the director was surprisingly upbeat about it. In fact, he doesn’t chalk the adverse reaction up to anything but unfinished CGI.
“I was just so fascinated because I didn’t think it was controversial at all. So it was quite entertaining. ‘Cats’ was apparently the number-one trending topic in the world, for a good few hours at least,” said the filmmaker.
Yeah, “a good few hours” is an understatement. For weeks, after the first trailer for “Cats” was released, the film found itself almost universally ridiculed for the look of the feline characters, particularly in how they all seemed a bit creepier than intended.
Hooper admits, however, that the CGI that was found in that first trailer was a rough draft for what the finished film will look like. He even goes so far as to suggest that perhaps the reaction to the first trailer helped the filmmaker and his visual effects team help craft the final look.
“We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage,” he said. “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.”
Interestingly, he says that the effects have evolved since that first trailer because the most recent footage that was released was also mocked quite a bit on social media. Maybe if the tweaks were made, they were subtle enough that many people missed them? Or perhaps the idea of James Corden as an anthropomorphic feline with human hands instead of claws is just not a great visual, no matter how good the CGI?
We’ll find out for sure when “Cats” arrives in theaters on December 20. You can watch the latest trailer below.