2019 is the unofficial Year of the Cat. Or more specifically, the Year of Cats. When the first trailer for Tom Hooper's adapted musical film dropped over the summer, people literally couldn't believe their eyes. Film critics took to Twitter in a frenzy, ripping the trailer to shreds like a pack of feral kitties. Then came the ruthless memes. From the head-scratching celebrity cast including Taylor Swift and Jason Derulo to the deeply unsettling CGI human-cat hybrids, Cats has been a never-ending fountain of material to collectively ridicule. A second trailer was released earlier in November, and that one was even weirder than the first one.

In a new interview with Empire, director Tom Hooper opened up about the severe backlash that came in response to the original trailer. He also reveals that the thorough criticism gave some insight on how the creative team should move forward with digital effects:

“We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage. Possibly there were, in the extremity in some of the responses, some clues in how to keep evolving [the production]. When you watch the finished film, you’ll see that some of the designs of the cats have moved on since then, and certainly our understanding of how to use the technology to make them work has gone up, too.”

You have to give Hooper credit for taking such adverse reactions like a champ. It seems as if Universal is taking a cue from Paramount, who were recently in a similar situation with their live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Hey, if it worked for Sonic, maybe it will work for Jennifer Hudson in cat-form. Even if the animation doesn't pan out as hoped, Cats has given us something precious — the ability to come together, young and old, big and small, to collectively hate on something. That's the best Christmas gift of all.

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