The reviews were out for Cats before the holidays, and the magical musical felines got a drubbing there (and at the box office) for being utterly clawful. But that hasn’t stopped Universal and director Tom Hooper from making unprecedented moves for the unprecedentedly strange film. Updating effects and shipping out a new version to theaters has caused some critics to question what exactly they were supposed to review, while leaving its awards future seemingly split. Will the Oscars consider the latest and greatest version of the stage adaptation? Or will Universal even bother pushing the crtically clobbered film? It seems that there are conflicting answers to these questions.
First, with regard to whether Cats’ patched version — let’s call it Cats 1.1 — will even be allowed to compete against films that actually went to theaters with their finished version and saved all post-theatrical tweaking for the home release’s director’s cut or special edition, the answer seems to be yes. That’s because, according to The Wrap, Cats didn’t only send an updated version to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The film actually ran its update during its first run, which allows it to circumvent a rule stating that “The alteration of an achievement by changing a picture from the version shown in Los Angeles County, upon which eligibility is based, shall subject such achievement to the risk of being declared ineligible by the Board of Governors.” Eligibility is based on the first week of screenings. Since Cats issued its cinematic correction within that time limit, it means that it was updated during its eligibility phase (and effectively unchanged after that window closed).
Great! Cats got in under the wire with a few tweaked effects and a glossy new shine. That should get them those coveted Oscars, right? Well, if Universal is being asked that question, the answer might be “Okay, we know, we know — it’s not getting anything.” That’s because simply submitting something to the Oscars is one thing; getting awards voters to actually consider, watch, and care about a movie is another. For Your Consideration campaigns help push these narratives onto the industry voters deciding the awards fates of films, which can manifest in screeners, billboard advertisements, or FYC websites offering up information highlighting why the films on display are just so excellent. Universal’s no longer shows Cats.
It used to, as some on social media have documented via screenshots.
Meow you see them:
Meow you don't:
This comes only a few days after critics trashed the film (leaving it with an abysmal 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences failed to go see it, and its own stars decided to trash-talk it. Perhaps the studio realized that it was better off not crowding its own offerings with something that clearly wasn’t going to make the cut. But maybe it’s just a technical glitch. Cats is still technically on the shortlist for the VFX Oscar, but even Universal seems to have given up on its chances for a nomination.
SYFY WIRE has reached out to Universal for comment.