When presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects on Sunday night, the two actors walked out onstage dressed as their Cats characters and openly mocked the film’s widely panned CGI effects. “As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” they told the crowd at the Dolby Theater, to applause and laughter.
“Last night, in presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie Cats,” the Visual Effects Society statement reads. “The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.”
It continues, “On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that the Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging, and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.”
Cats was a box-office bomb and received widespread criticism for pretty much every aspect of production, including its muddled storytelling and over-the-top performances, as well as its rushed effects. A week after the film was released in theaters this past December, a “patched” version with improved VFX was sent out to movie theaters, promising to omit glaring gaffes like Dame Judi Dench’s visible wedding ring.
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Director Tom Hooper admitted to finishing the film just a day before it premiered, and several of its stars have done their very best to distance themselves from and even outright condemn Cats, as Corden and Wilson did on Oscar night. (To her credit, Taylor Swift has fully embraced the disaster, telling Variety, “I had a great time working on that weird-ass movie.”)
Yves McCrae, a Vancouver visual-effects artist who previously worked for MPC (Motion Picture Co.), one of the VFX houses that contributed to Cats, also criticized the Oscars segment. “Hey guys I haven’t watched all of the Oscars but I assume these two were really classy and thanked me for working 80 hour weeks right up until I was laid off and the studio closed, right?” he wrote on Twitter.
Hey guys I haven't watched all of the Oscars but I assume these two were really classy and thanked me for working 80 hour weeks right up until I was laid off and the studio closed, right? https://t.co/dolAwK2xbr
— Yves McCrae (@YvesTM) February 11, 2020
Last winter, shortly before Cats premiered, MPC shut down its Vancouver studio, immediately laying off more than 80 VFX workers and affecting around 300 of their employees. Before the shutdown, the studio had also contributed to Ad Astra, Life of Pi, Disney’s CGI remake of The Lion King, and the redesign of Sonic the Hedgehog for the upcoming film, among other projects. MPC’s staff had decreased from about 800 since 2013.