'Cats' bombs at the box office

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Cats (Universal)

Tom Hooper's critically panned new movie of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats has been battered at the box office.

Analysts had predicted an opening weekend of at least $15m over the weekend, but the film received just $6.5m in the US – perhaps in part due to its startlingly poor reviews.

The news was no better over here, the film bringing in just $4.4m (£3.3m) in the UK and Ireland, making for a total of $10.9m – around £8.3m.

Read more: Tom Hooper changed Cats after CGI backlash

Given Cats’ near $100m (£76m) production budget, the Jellicle tribe have some way to go before Universal Pictures sees some of its money back.

However, it's hoped that the movie may achieve a similar slow-burn success to The Greatest Showman, which started poorly with a shocking $8m opening in the US but went on to make a very respectable $435m worldwide.

It's only the latest bump in the road for Cats.

Sir Ian McKellen in Cats. (Universal)

When its first trailer arrived over the summer, it was met with consternation, with work then being done on the CGI effects.

This remains ongoing, it seems, with news emerging that Universal has begun sending out a new version of the movie to cinemas with 'some improved visual effects'.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, this has been done at the request of director Tom Hooper, who admitted at the film's US premiere last week that he'd only finished the movie the day before, having put in a 36-hour shift to get it done.

Despite a stunning all-star cast, including Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Dame Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and the Royal Ballet's principal dancer Francesca Hayward, it's been mercilessly slated by critics.

The Guardian called it a “dreadful hairball of woe”, while Variety said it was “one of those once-in-a-blue-moon embarrassments that mars the résumés of great actors”.

Hooper, however, has suggested that we might be missing the point, and that the movie is making a apt political statement.

He told Business Insider: “[It] is a reflection on today’s political scene. Both in the UK and the US the tribalism of cultural discourse and politics is making it harder and harder for acts of kindness across the divide.

“The Jellicle, in a sense, its weakness is it is tribal. It’s pushed to its margins. The fallen, the forgotten, the disgraced.

“I think the film at a thematic level is perhaps suggesting that we as a community are stronger when rather than dividing we reintegrate into our community the fallen, the forgotten, the disgraced.”

Cats is out now across the UK.