Director Tom Hooper has already stepped up to defend the Cats trailers (starring Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, and more) that confused people with “digital fur technology” that kinda veered into a steep cliff of the uncanny valley. Sir Ian McKellen, who also appears in the film, has also issued a series of impassioned defenses of the film, including a lengthy plea for “dog lovers” to be converted to the cause.
Even though Hooper seemed confident that the visual effects would be smoothed out by the film’s release date (December 20), the film’s producers are now spreading the word as well. In conjunction with Universal Pictures, the London-centered Working Title (as producer) is putting out word through heads Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan, who spoke with Variety on the subject. While Bevan theorizes that folks who were upset simply aren’t aware of the Cats musical, Fellner is going further to assure people on the fence that “subtle changes” have been ongoing:
[T]he cats themselves have changed in appearance. The versions that were shown in the initial trailer were not the finished renditions; they were the result of a mad scramble to get visual effects shots completed in time for the teaser, says Fellner. “You’re seeing subtle changes,” he says. “The characters have progressed and are progressing every day.”
It sounds like the process is coming down to the wire, after Working Title already invested three years in the digital fur technology effects. Three years, and they must be exhausted, but here’s why those visual effects needed to happen in the first place:
“When we first started talking about Cats, they were looking at putting prosthetics on the actors,” says Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “There were all sorts of technical problems with dancers overheating and not being able to keep the fur on. It didn’t look good, so they went away and solved things.”
Right about now, the Sonic the Hedgehog producers must be breathing a sigh of relief for their initial decision to fully animate their little critter alongside live-action actors. That overhaul seems to have gone quite well, whereas Cats must fight an uphill battle in the eleventh hour before release, especially while going paw-to-paw with The Rise Of Skywalker. Both movies will release on December 20.