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Cats director locked film hours before premiere; first reactions call it 'strange,' 'magical'

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Dec 17, 2019, 11:58 AM EST

When Cats director Tom Hooper explained the cats’ furry effects seen in the trailers for his Andrew Lloyd Webber musical adaptation were only the first stages, fans took it to mean the final product’s designs and VFX would be tweaked and brushed ahead of the premiere. But Hooper was continuing those last-minute changes almost literally until the last minute.

Variety reports that, at the red carpet for Cats’ world premiere last night, Hooper said that he hadn’t actually finished the movie until the day before. “I finished it at 8 AM yesterday after 36 hours in a row,” Hooper said. “I just put the finishing touches on.” 

Two and a half days of straight Cats work leading up to the public debut of the film sounds like the best way to drive yourself crazy, but the timeline isn’t just crunched and rushed — it’s odd for awards season. Cats was already nominated for a Golden Globe over a week ago. Sure, it was for Best Original Song, but presumably it was submitted for other cat-egories as well. To hear it from Hooper, last night’s premiere was new to everyone but him.

“The premiere should be the first time people get to see it, and this is genuinely a premiere,” the director said. In fact, Variety TV critic Caroline Framke reported that Hooper saw the final cut at 2 PM the day of the premiere...mere hours before showing it to cast, crew, the media, and more:

The film — starring the likes of Ian McKellan, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden, and Jennifer Hudson — could’ve changed quite a bit (or none at all) from its first looks. Hooper, for one, is optimistic: “Let the audience decide, but I think we’ve come a long way since that first trailer.” The audience’s reactions? Well, they’re not too concerned with the effects, unless the effects in question are the long-term effects of the movie on their states of mind.

Take a look:

Overly sexual, earwormy, and utterly bizarre? Sounds like Cats is trying to be faithful to its source material, at the very least. Cats competes with The Rise of Skywalker when it hits theaters this weekend on Dec. 20.

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