Visual Effects Society Speaks Out Against Oscars Roast of ‘Cats’

The lousy CGI of "Cats" became one of Oscar night's big jokes, and the VFX Society has responded.
James Corden and Rebel Wilson92nd Annual Academy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Feb 2020
James Corden and Rebel Wilson
Rob Latour/Shutterstock

While Tom Hooper’s psychedelic vision of “Cats” received zero Oscar nominations, the box-office bomb still became a talking point of the Oscars telecast when cast members James Corden and Rebel Wilson mocked the movie’s lousy CGI while presenting the award for Best Visual Effects.  “As cast members of the motion picture ‘Cats,’ nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” Corden said from the stage.

Monday afternoon, the Visual Effects Society responded. As revealed in a recent statement shared with media (including Variety), the VES publicly slammed the roasting as staged by Corden and Wilson, costumed as their characters Bustopher Jones and Jennyanydots the Gumbie Cat.

“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 statement from the Visual Effects Society read. “The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly. The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing and honoring visual effects as an art form — and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued.”

The story of “Cats” is a sad one, as it opened in the U.S. box office in December to a dismal $6.5 million. Altogether it earned just above $71 million on a $100 million budget (and millions more in marketing costs), with rock-bottom reviews scaring audiences away from a freaky-looking musical that finds its human actors costumed in CGI cat fur. However, with rowdy screenings set up at the Alamo Drafthouse, it’s headed for midnight movie status. And while Corden and Wilson’s Oscars bit earned big laughs, the VFX Society insists it’s sending the wrong message.

“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. Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh,” the statement said. “Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects — and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing — because we all deserve it.”

While the visual effects Oscar was predicted by many to go to “The Lion King,” it ended up being handed off to “1917,” beating out epic-scale franchise tentpoles such as “Avengers: Endgame” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”

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