Well, you know ‘Cats’, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, praised as one of the greatest works of the 20th Century British musical theatre.
Then, you may also know ‘Cats the Movie’, a star-studded animated film with Oscar winner Tom Hooper at its behest.
And you are very well familiar with how the latter screwed the former up so royally. I mean, don’t start with me about Dame Judi Dench in fur and Idris Elba in tights and Jennifer Hudson singing off with her whiskers gently fluttering to her heartrending rendition of ‘Memory’. It was a cacophony, an ensemble cast with the most well-known musical numbers, with the visuals mucking it all up.
And for months, even the cast members themselves, have made fun of the artwork, especially calling out how the visual artists were the worst, creating a phenomenon among the audience known as the ‘uncanny valley’, along with the lukewarm directing.
But now, the visual artist who actually worked on the piece is calling out Tom Hooper as a total villain, a true Rum-Tum-Tugger if there ever was one. He even called the now-recluse as performing ‘almost slavery.’
VFX workers apparently slaved away on the film working 90-hour weeks for months only to have their work openly criticized by Hooper who wouldn’t hold back when asking for changes to be made.
From the account given by the anonymous figure, the workers were working on the artworks 90 hours a week which, when brought in front of Hooper’s eye for final editing, was heavily criticized and reprimanded.
The people under him would leave their final impression of the director as being ‘horrible,’ ‘disrespectful,’ and ‘demeaning.’ One manged to put in: ‘When you go into a conference room, you’re not allowed to speak.
And he talks to you like you’re garbage.
Some have given further details of their sleepless maneuver would span nearly ‘two or three days at a time, sleeping under desks.’ The other member of the party initially tweeted the infamous ‘butthole’ incident, where the animators would have to spend 90-hour just to get rid of the buttholes for Tom’s personal liking.
Hooper, who doesn’t have a background in animation, was apparently unable to grasp how things might look in the final cut and would insist animators create fully fledged versions of scenes instead of drafts which made the whole process even longer.
What’s even more surprising is that the CEO in charge of the production process, Hooper himself, was totally unversed and a stranger to the animation process and the overall work routine. He would demand a full-version animation every time for the reviews, not the draft version which is sort of a verbatim in the industry.
‘Before visual effects artists fully render sequences for animated films, they normally show directors playblasts — preview renderings that feature characters without color or texture,’ one member proceeded to claim.
‘Hooper, however, did not seem to grasp that process. Any time the visual effects team wanted to show the director any animatics, the source said, they had to fully render it. Otherwise, he’d say things like, “What’s this garbage?” and “I don’t understand— where’s the fur?”‘
Cats flopped at an unprecedented commercial and critical aspect, earning $27 million in the U.S. and $73 million in the box office worldwide.
The musical had an $80 million budget pre-marketing.
‘It was pure, almost slavery for us, how much work we put into it with no time, and everything was difficult. We were so rushed on the project that we’d have no time for anything. So when people say, “Oh, the effects were not good,” or “The animation’s not good,” or anything, that’s not our fault. We have no time. Six months to do a two-minute trailer and four months to do a film of an hour and a half.’
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