If you think the backlash to the “Sonic the Hedgehog” trailer was a bad day for Tinseltown, get a load of what people are saying about the freakish new “Cats” trailer that dropped on Thursday — the movie adaptation of the hit Andrew Lloyd Weber Broadway musical that was based on the poems of T.S. Elliot.
For some rather inexplicable reason, Universal Pictures, in association with director Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”), thought audiences would fall head-over-heels in love with the idea of a “Cats” movie adaptation that appears to somewhat resemble an acid trip at a Broadway cat convention hosted by James Corden and Jennifer Hudson — where actors are featured in cat costumes dancing around oversized sets as if we were being offered a glimpse into the nightmares of Michelle Pfeifer’s Catwoman. For the uninitiated, see for yourselves:
According to the Boston Globe, the trailer ignited an online hate fest that has only escalated in the past 24 hours. On YouTube alone, the comments were fiercely brutal, each one outdoing the other in the race to see who can come up with wittiest feline-punned troll.
“Sonic: I’m the most terrifying movie of 2019. Cats: Hold my milk,” said one user.
“So you’re telling me there wasn’t a single soul at Universal Pictures that said that this is more like nightmare fuel than an anything else?” said another user. “You’re telling me that every single person that’s involved with the creation of this abortion thought that this was a good idea?”
As of this writing, the official trailer for “Cats” has earned 8,000 downvotes compared to just 6,000 upvotes — an underwater voting ratio that, as 2016’s “Ghostbusters” demonstrated, rarely projects to fare well in the box office.
And to those who would dismiss the backlash as internet trolls living in their mother’s basement, the backlash on Twitter among industry insiders proved even worse:
The last time Hollywood faced this much heavy backlash to a movie trailer (“Sonic the Hedgehog”), the filmmakers had to delay the movie’s release for another three months just to fix the appearance of a single character.
“When Paramount revealed the first trailer for its upcoming film adaptation of the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ video games, fans were a bit taken aback by the new design for the titular character,” reported The Hollywood Reporter in May. “In lieu of the cartoonish dimensions seen on the character in the games, the film’s version was a more ‘realistic’ take on the speedy hedgehog. Across social media, fans criticized Sonic’s new look and it seems that the film’s director, Jeff Fowler, has taken notice of his audience.”
Director Jeff Fowler later announced that the move to make Sonic “just right” will take longer than expected. “Taking a little more time to make Sonic just right,” Fowler tweeted.
Shortly after the trailer dropped, social media trolls immediately scolded the look and design of Sonic, arguing he either looked too animated or did not match the video game character’s image, such as his bizarrely human teeth.
“Thank you for the support. And the criticism,” Fowler tweeted on May 2. “The message is loud and clear … you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be.”
Time will tell if Universal Pictures will heed the wisdom of the crowd on “Cats.”