Tom Hooper comments on the explosive reaction surrounding the Cats trailer

Cats, Tom Hooper

The first trailer for CATS, the upcoming feature-film based upon the award-winning Musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber, was released this summer and the reactions were…rather hilarious. Witnessing these “cats” brought to life with “digital fur technology” was a terrifying sight, and while the more recent trailer offered an improvement in that regard, the memory of those bizarre creations still haunts my memory.

Tom Hooper (LES MISÉRABLES) spoke with Empire about the explosive reaction which that first trailer received, which he confessed surprised him. “I was just so fascinated because I didn’t think it was controversial at all,” Hooper said. “So it was quite entertaining. Cats was apparently the number-one trending topic in the world, for a good few hours at least.” However, Hooper added that the effects seen in that first trailer were still at an early stage and have continued to develop.

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.

CATS tells the “story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night they make the ‘Jellicle choice,’ deciding which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life,” and stars James Cordon, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and introduces Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in her first feature-length film role.

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The official synopsis for CATS:

Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) transforms Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-shattering stage musical into a breakthrough cinematic event. Featuring Lloyd Webber’s iconic music and a world-class cast of dancers under the guidance of Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In the Heights), the film reimagines the musical for a new generation with spectacular production design, state-of-the-art technology, and dance styles ranging from ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street to tap.

Universal Pictures presents a Working Title Films and Amblin Entertainment production, in association with Monumental Pictures and The Really Useful Group. Cats is produced by Debra Hayward, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Tom Hooper. The screenplay is by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Rocketman) and Hooper, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot and the stage musical by Lloyd Webber. Cats is executive produced by Lloyd Webber, Steven Spielberg, Angela Morrison and Jo Burn.

One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, the stage musical “Cats” received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981, where it played for 21 years and earned the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983, the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for an extraordinary 18 years. Since opening in London in 1981, “Cats” has continuously appeared on stage around the globe, to date having played to 81 million people in more than fifty countries and in nineteen languages. It is regarded as one of the most successful musicals of all time.

CATS will hit theaters on December 20th.