After two trailers were raked over the internet’s coals thanks to the bonkers plotting, disconcerting furry effects, and general strangeness permeating Cats, the musical film’s director has broken his silence regarding the first response to the film. Tom Hooper (His Dark Materials, Les Misérables) has a star-studded cast (featuring the varied likes of Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, and Judi Dench) and not a care in the world when it comes to the meme-filled backlash meeting his Andrew Lloyd Webber adaptation.
Speaking to Empire, Hooper explained that he wasn’t bothered by the response at all. “I was just so fascinated because I didn’t think it was controversial at all,” said Hooper. “So it was quite entertaining. Cats was apparently the number-one trending topic in the world, for a good few hours at least.”
Besides, he explained, the footage fans saw in the first trailers for the adaptation would not be the final effect work — in fact, even character designs could be different, influenced by some of the strongest responses to the tease.
“We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage,” Hooper 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.”
So did the response bother the director? On the contrary, the critical comments seem to have helped him adjust how his Cats look for the final product. That mirrors the similar path that the main character of Sonic the Hedgehog took after a similar online roasting pushed the video game adaptation back into the production cycle. This strategy worked out surprisingly well for Sonic, which has only been met with praise since debuting its redesigned character, so perhaps Cats will truly follow suit.
Cats (and its mystifying take on Mistoffelees) may or may not be recognizable when it hits theaters on Dec. 20.