Cats is running out of lives at the box office in a hurry and that means the studios behind it are poised to lose a ton of money. The movie, ahead of its release, was hyped up in a big way by Universal Pictures. It's an adaptation of one of the most successful Broadway musicals of all-time. This seems like the kind of thing that can succeed over Chrismas. Instead, the expensive adaptation has become a misfire that will likely be remembered for years to come.
According to a new report, Cats is now expected to lose around $71 million at the box office based on long-term financial projects. At present, the musical has grossed just $20 million domestically, to go with a $38 million international total. It's expected that the movie will top out at $100 million globally. When taking the $90 million production budget into account, along with the very expensive marketing campaign, said to be in the $115 million range, those numbers are truly brutal. Universal, Amblin Entertainment and Working Title co-produce the feature.
The estimated losses even take into account the eventual revenue from all other sources, such as rentals, global TV rights, streaming and physical media sales. The only good news here is that Cats already seems to be developing an odd cult-ish vibe of sorts with certain corners of pop culture lovers. With any luck for the studios, it could become a midnight revival screening favorite in the years to come. But for that to pay off in any significant way will take years at best. Point being, at the end of the day, this is going to go down as one of the biggest box office bombs of 2019.
So, the question must be asked, what went wrong? Looking at the raw information we have, the simplest answer is that the movie simply isn't very good. As of this writing, Cats holds a brutal 18 percent critical approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, to go along with a better, but still quite bad, 54 percent audience rating. Universal also chose to open the movie against Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. That might have proved to be decent counterprogramming for a movie people liked, but that didn't prove to be the case. Plus, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Frozen II and Little Women earned big during the Christmas frame, which really helped to put the nail in the coffin.
On paper, it's easy to see why a studio would take this risk. Cats is one of the biggest musicals in history. Tom Hooper previously directed Les Miserables and The King's Speech, which went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars. The cast was stacked with the likes of Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, Judy Dench and more. Plus, La La Land and The Greatest Showman helped show that musicals are in vogue right now and audiences will show up for the right one. Cats, as it turns out, was not the right one. This news comes to us via Deadline.