Feb 11, 2020

    People Who Worked On "Cats" Are Fighting Back After James Corden And Rebel Wilson Dragged The Movie

    After James Corden and Rebel Wilson appeared to take a thinly veiled jab at Cats during Sunday night's Oscars, the Visual Effects Society released a scathing statement, saying: "The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly."

    So Sunday night marked the 2020 Oscars, with Parasite striking gold and walking away with four awards.

    Amy Sussman / Getty Images

    The South Korean dark comedy made history by becoming the first foreign-language movie to win Best Picture. Bong Joon-ho's masterpiece also picked up awards for Best Director, Best International Film, and Best Original Screenplay.

    However, one movie that was noticeably absent from the nominations was Cats, which has seen more than its fair share of drama since it was released back in December.

    Universal Pictures

    From the moment the trailer dropped, the movie was widely ridiculed and released to poor reviews. It currently has a score of just 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    And the movie failed to receive any nominations because its own studio, Universal, quietly abandoned its awards season campaign, removing Cats from its "for your consideration" page entirely.

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    As if that wasn't bad enough, the critically panned movie was reportedly estimated to lose more than $70 million after it failed to make a dent at the box office.

    Universal

    The cast of the movie has been making light of the criticisms though, with some even jumping on the bandwagon themselves. Enter James Corden and Rebel Wilson, who presented the award for Best Visual Effects at Sunday night's Oscars.

    Richard Harbaugh / Getty Images

    Dressed as their characters from the movie, the pair joked: "As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understand the importance of Good. Visual. Effects."

    Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    The comment was a thinly veiled jab at the movie's own visual effects, the quality of which had been called into question throughout the film's run.

    At one point, it was claimed that Universal Pictures resupplied thousands of cinemas with an updated version of the movie with "improved visual effects" after its release.

    But visual effects artists aren't taking the criticism lying down. In fact, the Visual Effects Society released a scathing statement on Monday, savagely dragging the Academy, Cats, and the people behind it.

    Matt Petit / Getty Images

    "The producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie Cats," a statement provided to the Hollywood Reporter said. "The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly."

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    Calling the joke "demeaning" and "disappointing", the statement continued: "Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh."

    On Twitter, the Visual Effects Society added: "Everything starts with a good story."

    .@TheAcademy - visual effects practitioners deserve immense respect for the artists & technicians & innovators they are and for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment. VFX is not a punchline or a proper scapegoat. Everything starts with a good story. #Oscars2020 https://t.co/JSxXVbDwpa

    A VFX artist, who apparently worked on Cats, also tweeted their disappointment at the joke.

    Hey guys I haven't watched all of the Oscars but I assume these two were really classy and thanked me for working 80 hour weeks right up until I was laid off and the studio closed, right? https://t.co/dolAwK2xbr

    According to their LinkedIn profile, McCrae previously worked for VFX company MPC, which reportedly contributed to the effects on Cats before closing their Vancouver office late last year.

    MPC didn't immediately respond when approached by BuzzFeed News for comment.

    In response to BuzzFeed News, McCrae elaborated on the tweet, adding that "VFX work is generally underappreciated" and that the Oscars had helped fuel that narrative.

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    "I think the scale of VFX work is generally underappreciated and the Acadamy's joke helped fuel that misconception," McCrae said. "Ultimately every person in the VFX industry understands that the unfinished effects in Cats were not the fault of any artist. I'm glad I am able to spread a bit of awareness of how hard hundreds of people worked to get the movie to the place that it was."

    Speaking about the feedback to the tweet, McCrae joked: "I've worked on a lot of stuff that has been completely forgotten but it seems like Cats is going to stick around in the culture for a while."

    McCrae's viral tweet was met with an outpouring of support, with people calling the joke "tasteless" and "a shameful display".

    @YvesTM When I heard that joke, I immediately thought of people in your position, and how tasteless it was. Leave it to Hollywood to only worry about the “poor famous actors”. I’ve had plenty of jobs that went south. Not your fault, and I genuinely enjoyed the movie.

    @YvesTM @1followernodad This was a shameful display, the volume of work by talented artists ruined through poor planning and release schedules and then to have the gall to take the piss out you internationally? Sympathies x

    Another tweet called the joke "grossly out of line".

    @YvesTM @DonaldAShults I could not BELIEVE they threw y'all under the bus. You guys didn't deserve that. They're grossly out of line.

    This isn't the first time that Rebel Wilson has poked fun at Cats. At last Sunday's BAFTAs, she cracked a joke about her dress, saying that it was partly black because she had just attended a funeral for the movie.

    Tolga Akmen / Getty Images

    "I made this dress by sewing two old dresses together," Rebel said before presenting an award. "The red is from the one time I didn't win Miss Australia, and the black is from a funeral I just attended, for the feature film Cats. Strangely not nominated for any awards."

    James Corden also appeared to mock the movie, admitting that he hadn't seen it yet but had "heard it's terrible".

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    In another interview, James told the New Yorker: "I can't imagine I'll see it."

    He later added: "It's important to say I had the best time making it. At some point, you have to go, 'How am I going to judge my own experience? Am I only going to have enjoyed something if it was successful?'"

    BuzzFeed has reached out to reps of James Corden and Rebel Wilson, as well as Universal Pictures, for comment.

    UPDATE

    Yves McCrae responded to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. The post has been updated to reflect that.

    Ben Henry is a celebrity reporter for BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

    Contact Ben Henry at ben.henry@buzzfeed.com.

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