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Luppercus ¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay? from Halloweentown Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay?
Dec 29th 2019 at 1:14:35 AM

Just to add some thoughts, as little can be said already that hasn’t been said.

I think the musical could be adapted successfully, I heard that Steven Spielberg once wanted to do it in animated form, which probably would have work. Hearing the Podcast of Mathew Buck (with Allison Pegler) they mentioned that if the movie was made with practical instead of CGI effect might have work also, and I agree. Imagine all the suits and make ups of the stage musical but with a movie budget and the experience could be amazing.

I think the movie could work better as:

  • A straight animated film. Give it to Pixar or Disney, or even better Dreamworks (Madagascar comes to mind, specially the third one which had a lot of felines and lots of musical number because of the circus theme).
  • Similar movie but with practical instead of CGI, as mentioned before. CGI could be use to enhance some aspects, but otherwise using make-up effects. If you have seen Face/Off you’ll knew how cool this can be some times. And you’ll be given work and spotlight to what is sadly a dying art.
  • Make a movie with real non-anthropomorphic cats. That’s kind of original. They can be CGI like with the Lion King or they can be real cats enhances with CGI like for their mouths movements or something. Yes, it will be a challenge to make them choreograph but not impossible, especially not if is on CGI.

I don’t want to sound like the guy who hates CGI, I’m aware of its need and that when well used is great (like LOTR, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the new Planet of the Apes movies and Jurassic Park to name a few). But not everything has to be done with CG. Currently it became basically the de-fault option for Hollywood and it looks like a prescription pills addict who has a problem and hasn’t realized that is abusing what was supposed to be use only in certain cases. CGI can be great but shouldn’t be the only thing it goes through their minds when trying to solve something.

A little off topic but I always thought that both Garfield and Scooby Doo should have use a real animal instead of a CGI. Specially in the case of Garfield. A nice, chubby orange tabby cat could have made wonders for the movie, with Murray’s voice over. Something like the cats from Captain Marvel and Pet Sematary that became kind of celebrities. You generally prefer to see a real cat than a computer cat in a animal movie (and is weird because they use real animals for all the other characters). With Scooby Doo is more understandable for all the stunts the dog has to do, but I’m pretty sure you can enhance a real dog with CGI to do them with some minor variations. They do it with Marmaduke for example, and again probably the dog would have been much better received.

But I digress. My point is, again, is not like CGI is bad, as I mentioned before let’s take Planet of the Apes as examples of not only good CGI but how motion capture blends perfectly and is used correctly in a movie that otherwise could not be done for today’s standards. But unless you want to make the Island of Doctor Moreau in which the Uncanny Valley would actually help, don’t use it with furries. Use if with non-anthro cats or use practical in anthro cats, or make it animated which may work with both non-anthro and anthro cats.

A problem with CGI is that when is great is great but when is not is not. Practical have an advantage that even the worst practical is still there and the human mind still reads it as something real. So, unless you are sure that you CGI is one of the best (Jurassic Park level quality) is better not to use it save to enhances and other minimal stuffs.

Edited by Luppercus on Dec 29th 2019 at 4:17:31 AM

alliterator How dare you? from Southern California Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
How dare you?
Dec 29th 2019 at 1:40:31 AM

There are several problems with your pitches:

  • If it's an animated (or non-animated) film using non-anthropomorphic cats (i.e. cats who look like actual cats), then you would lose all of the choreography and dancing from the stage play. And that's pretty much half of the show itself — singing and dancing make up the entire thing and if you take away the dancing, all you're left with is the singing and, aside from "Memory," none of the songs are really memorable.
  • If you decide to just do a non-CGI version of the stage play, which includes the dancing and singing, you get into a problem I like to call "When Willing Suspension of Disbelief Is Not Enough," i.e. the audience will see the characters as actors playing roles rather than cats. Which...isn't a bad thing, actually. The movie as is is definitely counting on people recognizing actors like Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift. But putting them in spandex outfits instead of CGI "fur" and suddenly the film might become even more weird. Or not, I have no idea.
  • In any case, however, that film was already made. It's obvious that the studio (or at least Tom Hooper) wanted a more big budget version, a la the Les Miserables film he made.
  • None of that address the fact that Cats is, on the whole, almost entirely plotless, with most of its songs about either Jellicle cats or cats introducing themselves.

There is, however, one very easy way to adapt Cats and it's what I call the "Adaptation" approach: don't even try, instead take a more meta approach and make a movie about trying to adapt the musical Cats into a film. It would still include the songs and dances (no CGI), but this time have an actual plot and characters.

"What, you think I won't fight a dinosaur? Are you crazy? All I want to do is fight dinosaurs." — Squirrel Girl
Silasw A procrastination in of itself from a handcart heading to Hell Relationship Status: And they all lived happily ever after <3
A procrastination in of itself
Dec 29th 2019 at 3:43:44 AM

The ‘98 version didn’t try and give the story any plot nor did it utilise film techniques to make the longs big and better, so I’d say even with its existence there is plenty of room for expansion without going full CGI on all the actors and actresses.

As for the basic issue of the plot, I’d remind people that this film added a bunch of plot and cut some of the most absurd songs/bits, I suspect you’re right that making Cats a film with an actual plot is simply madness.

Edited by Silasw on Dec 29th 2019 at 11:47:19 AM

"And the Bunny nails it!" ~ Gabrael "If the UN can get through a day without everyone strangling everyone else so can we." ~ Cyran
Dec 29th 2019 at 4:28:12 AM

I don't think there's any way to make a successful CATS movie. Like, yeah, there's a bunch of questionable elements in this film, but a huge amount of the complaints are about things that are just part of the musical. It's bizarre, incoherent, largely plotless, incredibly campy, has uncanny valley problems, and dealing with any single one of those problems would mean that you're not filming CATS

As an aside, I'm baffled that anyone, at any point of the process, thought this would do well. General audiences hate camp

Edited by Hylarn on Dec 29th 2019 at 4:29:18 AM

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Dec 29th 2019 at 5:17:51 AM

I'm still not convinced that this isn't a failure of implementation, rather than concept; my intuition, at least, is that a CG-anthro version of Cats could be made to work. Just not like this. (I'll confess that I'm not sure of how it could be made to work, in all fairness.)

As to the plot... the theatre version of Cats already adds plot to the original Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (which is largely a set of disconnected poems, with no more than a few shared references, as I recall). Thus I don't really see a problem with beefing up and/or altering the plot of Cats for a hypothetical movie version.

(The big problem, as I see it, being that most of the poems and thus most of the songs are introductory songs, telling us about one cat or another. There are a few others—like Growltiger's Last Stand—but I think that they're a bit too few and far between. Thus one would still be looking for a plot that incorporates a lot of cats being introduced.)

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Luppercus ¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay? from Halloweentown Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay?
Dec 29th 2019 at 8:16:28 AM

If it's an animated (or non-animated) film using non-anthropomorphic cats (i.e. cats who look like actual cats), then you would lose all of the choreography and dancing from the stage play. And that's pretty much half of the show itself — singing and dancing make up the entire thing and if you take away the dancing, all you're left with is the singing and, aside from "Memory," none of the songs are really memorable.
I have seen lots of Disney movies with non-anthro animals who have a lot of music, dancing and choreographies, including the Aristocats, the original Lion King and Jungle Book. Yes, the animals may not be entirely realistic in their movements but they found the way. So I fail to see the problem in doing the same again.

If you decide to just do a non-CGI version of the stage play, which includes the dancing and singing, you get into a problem I like to call "When Willing Suspension of Disbelief Is Not Enough," i.e. the audience will see the characters as actors playing roles rather than cats.
Yeah… like if that is not exactly what happened with the CGI version…

Which...isn't a bad thing, actually. The movie as is is definitely counting on people recognizing actors like Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift. But putting them in spandex outfits instead of CGI "fur" and suddenly the film might become even more weird. Or not, I have no idea.
It is impossible to know the result, however I’m pretty sure that a 95 million dollar movie have a budget to do more than just spandex. I was thinking more in Star Wars level of make-up and costume design, however one thing is for certain. I’ve never heard of uncanny effect caused by practicals.

None of that address the fact that Cats is, on the whole, almost entirely plotless, with most of its songs about either Jellicle cats or cats introducing themselves.
That is true, but that is why most adapted script deviate from the source material when that happens. How to Train Your Dragon (the book) is basically plotless and inspire one of the best received and successful film franchises of history with three movies, several shorts and a TV show that run for several seasons. Same with the Lego Movie, what plot does legos have? What they could do was to take the basic idea and make whatever they wanted with it, putting as mucho plot as they wanted.

There is, however, one very easy way to adapt Cats and it's what I call the "Adaptation" approach: don't even try, instead take a more meta approach and make a movie about trying to adapt the musical Cats into a film. It would still include the songs and dances (no CGI), but this time have an actual plot and characters.

That however would be a good idea.

ArsThaumaturgis Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
Dec 29th 2019 at 9:13:15 AM

... however one thing is for certain. I’ve never heard of uncanny effect caused by practicals.

It's a side-note to this discussion, but our page for the Uncanny Valley definitely seems to list some examples of practical effects producing this result, I believe.

Night River: A Short, Simple, Spooky Experience. (Okaywithsomebadaudiosorry. T-T)
Dec 29th 2019 at 10:24:56 AM

It's really not an issue with CG vs. practical makeup effects. The CG in the movie is actually good enough that it can be mistaken for good makeup and costumes, it's the production design in general that's created this mess.

The movie just fell face first into an escalating budget, and it seems they thought they had a chance at an Oscar campaign because of the money put into the music and production design.

alliterator How dare you? from Southern California Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
How dare you?
Dec 29th 2019 at 10:31:49 AM

How to Train Your Dragon (the book) is basically plotless and inspire one of the best received and successful film franchises of history with three movies, several shorts and a TV show that run for several seasons. Same with the Lego Movie, what plot does legos have?
I just want to point out that neither How to Train Your Dragon nor The LEGO Movie is based on a four billion dollar franchise. In fact, The LEGO Movie isn't based on anything at all, it just uses legos and the filmmakers were free to make up any story they wanted. The same generally applied to HTTYD, as the books were rather obscure kids books (before the movies anyway), so the filmmakers were free to change the plot completely.

Cats, on the other hand, is very well known, so you can't just completely change it, and adding plot to its plotless structure is...difficult, to say the least. That's why I say go the Adaptation. route.

"What, you think I won't fight a dinosaur? Are you crazy? All I want to do is fight dinosaurs." — Squirrel Girl
Luppercus ¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay? from Halloweentown Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay?
Dec 29th 2019 at 10:37:57 AM

That's kind of the problem nowadays with toxic fandom. The slightest modification from the source material causes a flame war, and then the product sucks (as a lot of products can't really translate well to cinema) and then the movie sucks and fans complain. I think something like that happened to the Warcraft movie.

Tuckerscreator from Traveling through the Multiverse Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Luppercus ¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay? from Halloweentown Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay?
Dec 29th 2019 at 12:34:24 PM

Interesting video review (I'm not the only who thinks it should be full animation or using suits):

Also Film Brain's podcast that I mentioned earlier

Dec 29th 2019 at 1:51:24 PM

This article tells about an animated version Steven Spielberg tried to make in the 90s and why it didn't go anywhere.

Tarlonniel Superfan from Metropolis Relationship Status: Tweaking my holographic boyfriend
Superfan
Dec 29th 2019 at 3:43:59 PM

That concept art looks amazing.

I love this film because half the internet is now talking about one of my favorite musicals. [tup]

Gone to Faerie, no forwarding address. (AO3)
alliterator How dare you? from Southern California Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
How dare you?
Dec 29th 2019 at 4:26:49 PM

A Cats animated musical set during the London Blitz? Dear god, that might have been amazing. It would also explain why all these cats want to be "reborn" somewhere else — because the place they live now is extremely dangerous and they might die at any time anyway. And all that artwork looks gorgeous. But, again, the lack of plot gets in the way again. Too bad.

"What, you think I won't fight a dinosaur? Are you crazy? All I want to do is fight dinosaurs." — Squirrel Girl
Ultimatum ◕ Disasturbator from England Relationship Status: Holding out for a hero
◕ Disasturbator
Dec 29th 2019 at 4:52:01 PM

ooph

losing 1000 million is enough to bankrupt most studios

click not | no dont click this either seriously why would you
M84 Light our darkest hour! from Our little blue planet Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Light our darkest hour!
Dec 29th 2019 at 6:03:48 PM

Even if it was possible to make a decent Cats movie...and I'm not sure it is...after this movie? No big studio is going to try it for a while. Not after it got lambasted by critics and lost this much money.

I mean, it's possible to make a movie that isn't too terrible out of source material that has little to no plot. FFS, Terry Gilliam once made a movie based on "Jabberwocky", a fucking nonsense poem. It's also possible to make an entire series based on a children's book with no real plot like Green Eggs and Ham.

Maybe if the Cats movie was being directed and produced by people who actually saw the musical and got what made it popular (though for the life of me I don't know what makes it popular myself) instead of people who thought throwing star power and graphics at it would be enough...but it's moot now.

Edited by M84 on Dec 29th 2019 at 10:08:58 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
Luppercus ¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay? from Halloweentown Relationship Status: YOU'RE TEARING ME APART LISA
¿Que pasó que pasó vamos 'ay?
Dec 30th 2019 at 2:02:17 AM

[up] good examples. Again, lack of plot from the source material is not a problem, the adaptator should have the right to take as many liberties as he/she wants even taking only the basic concept and make as much plot as he/she wants. Problem is, as I said, nowadays fanboys cry if you make the slightest change.

Dec 30th 2019 at 2:37:16 AM

Maybe if the Cats movie was being directed and produced by people who actually saw the musical and got what made it popular (though for the life of me I don't know what makes it popular myself) instead of people who thought throwing star power and graphics at it would be enough...but it's moot now.

No, see the issue here is that this is a fairly good adaption of the musical. Most of the theater types I've encountered like the movie! The problem isn't in the adaptation but that the audience for this sort of thing is really rather small

M84 Light our darkest hour! from Our little blue planet Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Light our darkest hour!
Dec 30th 2019 at 2:41:46 AM

By theater types do you mean people who are bigtime fans of musicals and/or people who actually study this stuff?

Because the audience for the musical wasn't exactly small. The show has made billions. That "pitch" comedy vid even pointed that out as a likely reason the studio execs greenlit this in the first place.

Cats is a popular moneymaking musical. It's not a niche production.

A Deadline article about why it bombed even pointed this out:

How ‘Cats’ Became A Calamity At The Box Office With $6.5M Opening

All the logic was there for Universal and Working Title to make a movie of Cats. The studio has had a hot streak with musicals between its Mamma Mia franchise and their 3-time Oscar winner Les Miserables, the latter a Christmas 2012 release. Oscar-winning filmmaker Hooper, after doing justice to that stage opera on screen, could certainly be trusted in adapting Cats. The Lloyd Webber musical has grossed close to $4 billion worldwide and is the fourth-longest running Broadway musical of all-time. Why the hell wouldn’t you make a movie version of this musical? The audience is certainly there. And as far as the whole song-driven nature of Cats, well, Mamma Mia proved that masses of females would come out for a non-linear, flimsy plotted pic. Hooper and the studio smartly cast Cats in a way that would appeal to young females (Taylor Swift in what is arguably her cinematic debut and pop singer Jason Derulo) as well as actors who have respect among Broadway fans and sophisticated moviegoers (Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Judi Dench). While Les Miserables featured a Foghorn Leghorn vocal turn by Russell Crowe as Javert, there wasn’t one offbeat note sung in Cats. No one was miscast. In order for the movie to one-up the stage musical, there was a great degree of CGI and mo-cap implemented with the costumes, plus sets built twice the size of its human actors. Hooper blew Cats up beyond its stage confines.

Edited by M84 on Dec 30th 2019 at 6:49:20 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
Ultimatum ◕ Disasturbator from England Relationship Status: Holding out for a hero
◕ Disasturbator
Dec 30th 2019 at 2:48:39 AM

> The problem isn't in the adaptation but that the audience for this sort of thing is really rather small

rather small and fond of eating birds and mice from what I gather

-badum tish-

click not | no dont click this either seriously why would you
M84 Light our darkest hour! from Our little blue planet Relationship Status: Chocolate!
Light our darkest hour!
Dec 30th 2019 at 2:51:47 AM

More seriously, the people who seemed to actually like this movie were older audiences as opposed to the younger ones the marketing hoped to reach by casting the likes of Taylor Swift.

BTW, the movie has apparently made a bit less than $40 million worldwide so far. Odds of it making enough to break even any time soon seem low.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that the audience isn't the issue. There's an audience for musical movies. There's an audience for movie adaptations of musicals. The failure of Cats so far isn't because musical movies aren't popular.

Edited by M84 on Dec 30th 2019 at 6:59:43 PM

Disgusted, but not surprised
jakobitis from Lots of places Relationship Status: I'm Clockwork and she's Quartz
Dec 30th 2019 at 6:19:43 AM

The Greatest Showman proves there is a musical movie audience out there. The problem with Cats isn't that it's a musical, the problem is that it just isn't very good.

Edited by jakobitis on Dec 30th 2019 at 6:21:43 AM

Dec 30th 2019 at 7:13:22 AM

Movie musicals seem to be a feast-or-famine sort of deal. There's been a lot of bombs, but the ones that do well do very well

There's a few different problems that tend to crop up: Song and dance just isn't as impressive on screen. Film audiences generally want the musical numbers to make sense. Theater audiences are much more okay with camp than general audiences. So you want something that has appeal beyond the music itself, isn't too campy, and probably has consistent reasoning behind the musical numbers. This is the exact opposite of CATS


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