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Hops and Box Office Flops: ‘CATS – A Jellicle Pod for Jellicle Listeners’

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Cats … how would one describe it? Well, quite frankly, it’s a nightmarish, music-infused trip through the bizarre and oddly seductive world of Jellicle cats. The Jellicle are a tribe of cats all vying to be selected to go to the Heaviside Layer (cat heaven?). They do so by engaging in frivolous song and dance, all in the hopes of appeasing Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench). She’s their matriarch, and I assume they follow her because her hands are literally just human ones. No fur, nothing. *Just general hands. 

That’s literally the movie; it’s frolicking, other vainglorious pageantry, and an overabundance of cat horniness. It happens for nearly two hours. It’s baffling, to say the least, but you can never look away. It’s a slow motion car crash with two vehicles being driven by cat/human homunculi. I’m not sure why it was made, who thought it was a good idea, and why this is the aesthetic they chose. Heck, I’m hard pressed to identify why it was such a hit on Broadway and beyond. What I do know is: I’ll never forget what unfolded on the screen the night I saw it.

As strange as the movie is, though, that wouldn’t have mattered much if it was a hit. Therein lies the issue. Cats, for all its disastrous effects, was an even bigger failure financially. Meow, let’s break down these numbers. Cats has clawed its way to just under $59 million worldwide on a budget of $100 million. It cost an additional $100 million to market.

Victoria, the aspiring Jellicle cat, causing trouble

It has already been estimated to lose more than it cost to make—talk a bout a bad fur day. It finished ninth, exercising all its lives, in only its second weekend; and in that weekend, the five-day Christmas Holiday, it generated a paltry $8.7 million. It was also buried like a fresh turd in the litter box by critics. It sits at 20% with 279 reviews (53% with viewers—really?).

This all sounds fairly grotesque—a fur ball hacked up and discarded—but you have to see this movie; and you should witness it, in all its glory, with as many of your friends as possible. It’s an ideal piece of cinema to poke fun at with others, while also appreciating some of the immense talent that is on display.

So sit back, lap up a saucer of milk, chug a few Stranger than Fiction Porters from Collective Arts Brewing, and stretch those tails. I, the Thunderous Wizard (@WriterTLK), Capt Cash, and Chumpzilla will guide you though the fantastical world of theatrical feline humanoids!

This Week’s Segments:

  • Introduction – We do our damndest to describe what this movie was actually about and why it veered so far off the rails. We also officially become cats, assigning each other our Jellicle names.  (00:00)
  • Interesting Facts about the Movie and the “Cat-Tastic” Trivia Challenge – After briefly discussing some interesting facts about the movie, Capt. Cash and Chumpzilla engage in a battle of wits to become the pod’s official “Jellicle Choice.” (47:17)
  • Recommendations – To aid us in our recuperation from seeing Cats, we offer slightly less horror-inducing fare. (1:01:40)

And, as always, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook to check out all the interesting factoids—the ballad of Pugnacious Prrrcival Pawsford and more—from this week’s episode!

You can find this episode of Hops and Box Office Flops on Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcherPodbean, and Spotify!

*As a note: this was apparently corrected in the finished cut of the film, which was released days after its premiere, but in my viewing, it was not.

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Thomas L. Kelly

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