“The problem with the film was that Tom Hooper decided that he didn’t want anybody involved in it who was involved in the original show,” Webber said of Cats’ director. “The whole thing was ridiculous.”
Even with its star-studded cast — including Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, James Corden, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Rebel Wilson and Ian McKellen, among other big names — Cats was universally panned by critics and moviegoers alike, with the focus of contention being on the CGI-assisted design of the feline characters themselves.
Other than the physical appearance of the characters he created, though, Webber has also taken issue with some of the film’s portrayals — including that of Corden’s Bustopher Jones. Referencing T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats,” on which Cats was based, Webber said Corden’s performance was “absolutely un-Eliot.”
Cats — which was made for about $100 million before marketing — made a dismal $6.6 million during its opening weekend.
Webber was at the Cats film premiere in New York in December and in remarks before the movie said it was “so much [Hooper’s] vision.”
During his chat with the Sunday Times, Webber also shared his thoughts on how the novel coronavirus pandemic has impacted the theater industry. Before COVID-19 hit, his production of Cinderella was set to premiere this month at London’s Gillian Lynne Theatre. It has since been postponed to April 2021.
“The big issue now is, do I push the button? We moved it back to next year, but we still don’t know if we’re going to be able to open then,” said Webber. “Do we start building sets? We’re having to say to the actors, ‘Look, we love you, but it’s a case of us all crossing our fingers here.’ We simply don’t know.”