It seems inevitable that people would congregate to watch some talented actors, amazing dancers, decent singers, and Taylor Swift seriously commit to the feline demands of a big-screen production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running theatrical extravaganza Cats. That’s why we ran to see it opening night, at any rate. But it seems that the larger culture is just catching up.
A Page Six item published Wednesday—almost three weeks after the notorious bomb opened, turning movie theaters into litter boxes—claims that “sources close to the project are hanging onto hope that the film could become the next Rocky Horror Picture Show, which bombed in 1975 before becoming a cult classic.” Well, I’m sure these “sources close” are, much like one hopes that they can pull off as yellow the formerly white T-shirt of theirs that their dog pissed on. Lemonade from lemons.
The Post notes a recent Brooklyn screening to which more than 20 fans showed up in cat costumes. I’ve seen people on Twitter talking about sold-out screenings, including a sing-along-themed one in Toronto as recently as this week. The so-called “Rowdy Screening” at the Los Angeles Alamo Drafthouse scheduled for Thursday (that’s tonight) is sold out. (Not to fear: The theater has more of such screenings planned for the next week.) A slow burn appreciation is typical for movies that become beloved for reasons clearly not intended by their creators. (It took Showgirls years to amass its cult, despite its absurdity being immediately obvious, and it took star Elizabeth Berkley decades to come to terms with that.)
However, I’m not sure that Cats is a shoe-in for the kind of grassroots reappraisal that some notorious flops are bestowed. Firstly, it’s too boring too often (especially in its crucial first half, when audiences need to be hooked in). The music doesn’t bang like it should because of terrible sound mixing. It’s ugly and it’s hard to parse exactly what’s being said as the cat people go on and on about what they and their peers do all day and, more broadly, with their lives (spoiler: some cat shit). In its favor, though, is the fact that the distinguished likes of Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian Murray McKellen show the fuck up and give everything they have with no seeming recognition of how ridiculous the entire affair is. Also, the song “Mr. Mistoffelees” bangs. And, you know, it’s Cats, so lol.