Oh, “Cats.” We’re one day into the opening weekend for Tom Hooper‘s adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, and so far, nothing has gone right. Critics hate the film; it currently sits at 19% on RottenTomatoes, and even that number doesn’t capture the outright scorn present in most reviews. Audiences hate the film; it has a C+ rating on Cinemascore and, by Deadline‘s numbers, only earned half of its expected $15 million in box office to this point. Things have gone so far off the rails that you almost feel bad kicking the movie while it’s down.
Almost. And then, Universal does something like announce that it’s sending out an updated version of the movie already in movie theaters, and you cannot help but feel like “Cats” deserves everything it gets. On Friday, Twitter user Mike Blacklist responded to the review of Birth.Movies.Death write Scott Wampler with a screenshot from the distributor. According to Blacklist – probably not his real last name – theaters could expect to receive a brand new version of the film within days, one that includes “some improved visual effects.”
— mike blacklist (@mike_blacklist) December 20, 2019
Now, it’s possible that the updated visual effects are something unrelated to the characters themselves, but place this notice in context. During the film’s red carpet premiere on Tuesday, director Tom Hooper admitted to Variety that he had only finalized the film “at 8 a.m. yesterday after 36 hours in a row.” It’s not unheard of for filmmakers to tinker with their movies right up to the festival release date, but two days before the movie is dropped into an estimated 3,380 movie theaters across the country? That’s kinda bonkers, and it could explain why Universal had to send out an updated version of the film. With 36 hours of sleep-deprived editing, you’re bound to miss a few things.
Once user Mike Blacklist’s screenshot made the rounds, many, many people joked about how Universal had to release a “Day One patch,” a term that refers to video game developers having to tweak games immediately upon their release. And considering Hooper’s other admission that they had changed the character design based on audiences’ reactions to the trailer, and the much-discussed and expensive redesign for the title character in Paramount‘s “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie, it does sort of feel like we’re in a convergence between video games and cinema. Once digital delivery becomes the standard for movie theaters, what’s to keep a studio from simply “patching” their DCPs whenever they want to make a change? What a world.