Andrew Lloyd Webber is officially a dog person, and he has Tom Hooper’s musical trash-fire “Cats” to thank for that. The 2019 adaptation of Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster musical was the laughing stock of the holiday movie season. Not only did it get scathing critical reviews, but it also bombed at the box office, with not even $30 million domestically. In a new interview with Variety, Lloyd Webber held back nothing while discussing how much he dislikes Hooper’s adaptation.
“‘Cats’ was off-the-scale all wrong,” Lloyd Webber said. “There wasn’t really any understanding of why the music ticked at all. I saw it and I just thought, ‘Oh, God, no.’ It was the first time in my 70-odd years on this planet that I went out and bought a dog. So the one good thing to come out of it is my little Havanese puppy.”
Lloyd Weber brought the dog with him to the United States via airplane and got the dog registered as a therapy pet. “I wrote off and said I needed him with me at all times because I’m emotionally damaged and I must have this therapy dog,” he said. “The airline wrote back and said, ‘Can you prove that you really need him?’ And I said ‘Yes, just see what Hollywood did to my musical “Cats.”’ Then the approval came back with a note saying, ‘No doctor’s report required.’”
Then again, Lloyd Webber is often dissatisfied with film adaptations of his musical work. The Broadway icon told Variety he is not a fan of Norman Jewison’s 1973 adaptation of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and he said Joel Schumacher’s 2004 adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera” got the casting all wrong. “The Phantom was too young,” he said of casting Gerard Butler in the role opposite Emmy Rossum. “And the whole point of the Phantom is he needs to be quite a bit older than Christine.” Only Alan Parker’s 1996 “Evita” holds up for Webber, mainly because of Madonna’s performance (“To this day, I don’t think anybody else could have done it better”).
As for “Cats,” cast member Jennifer Hudson recently defended the musical while promoting her Aretha Franklin biographical drama “Respect.” The Oscar winner told Total Film magazine, “You know what? I think it was a bit overwhelming. It’s unfortunate that it was misunderstood. I think later down the line, people will see it differently. But it is something I am still very proud of and grateful to have been a part of. Yeah, I got to be Grizabella the Glamour Cat!”
“Any time you defy what an art form is, any time you defy all rules, there’s going to be some push-back, obviously,” cast member Jason Derulo told TMZ when the film was released as a pushback against the negative reviews. “But it’s an incredible piece of art done by some of the best people in the world. I am just excited for the people to actually see it because reviewers, I mean, what the hell do they know? Have they made a film ever in their life?”