The Box Office Was a Complete Cat-astrophe For Cats

Amanda Prahl
CATS, from left: Danny Collins as Mungojerrie, Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, Naoimh Morgan as Rumpleteazer, 2019. Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

As many expected, the movie adaptation of the musical Cats turned out to be the terrifying CGI-fest that no one was asking for - and its box office receipts really hammer home the failure. In its opening weekend, Cats brought in a dismal $6.5 million, according to Variety. That would be a pretty terrible opening weekend by any standards, but given how expensive the movie was to make, it's even worse.

Variety reported that Cats cost $100 million just to make, and that's not even counting the marketing and distribution costs. Considering how ubiquitous the trailers and commercials for Cats have been, it seems pretty safe to assume that those costs were high as well. It wasn't a cheap movie to make, between the paychecks for the A-list cast (which includes Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Ian McKellan, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Derulo, Rebel Wilson, and James Corden) and the hefty costs of the motion-capture-to-CGI filming. In all likelihood, Universal Pictures was hoping to replicate the success of 2012's Les Miserables: a star-studded, Tom Hooper-directed movie version of a beloved, sprawling musical from the 1980s, which earned several major award nominations and a global box office of nearly $442 million. Instead, Cats fell prey to abysmal reviews of the film itself, Hooper's direction of the notoriously campy and bizarre musical, and the now-infamous CGI effects that melded the actors' faces with the bodies and mannerisms of oversize cats.

For comparison: Disney's Frozen 2, in its fifth weekend in theaters, made just over $12 million this past weekend - nearly double the opening-weekend haul of Cats, according to Deadline. Cats only narrowly edged out the quirky murder mystery Knives Out (now in week four of its release) by less than half a million dollars. To be sure, most moviegoers this weekend were flocking to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, but Cats has always shared a release date with the final Star Wars film, under the assumption that the target audiences aren't likely to overlap much. As it turns out, the audience for Cats is even smaller than they thought, and the hilariously terrible reactions on social media certainly haven't helped.