comScore Andrew Lloyd Weber Hated the 'Cats' Movie So He Got a Dog
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Andrew Lloyd Weber Hated the Cats Movie So Much He Got an Emotional Support Dog

 

James Corden poses as a cat in the movie musical 'Cats'

If you ever wanted to know how Cats composer Andrew Lloyd Weber felt about the cinematic abomination that was Cats, we now have the answer.

Lloyd Weber let the fur fly when discussing the Tom Hooper-directed movie adaptation in a new Variety feature. The most pressing piece of information to take away is that Lloyd Weber was so distraught about how Cats turned out, he bought a dog. Sweet irony!

Variety’s cover feature on Lloyd Weber is about more than Cats; the lengthy article is centered around the return of theater to New York and London after the pandemic darkened stages for more than a year. It also discusses some of Lloyd Weber’s own theatrical battles with COVID safety laws and restrictions. They cover the projects he has in motion. But you’re here to hear about Cats, and what Cats the musical’s creator thought about Cats the movie.

“‘Cats’ was off-the-scale all wrong,” says Lloyd Webber. “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.”

Weber went on, in a wry continuation of the theme that sounds like half a joke but perhaps is not?

“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,” says Lloyd Webber. “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.’”

It’s hard to imagine this exchange with the airline really taking place, but on the other hand, Cats the movie did make headlines for, well, being “off-the-scale all wrong.” The image of Andrew Lloyd Weber, holding up his wee Havanese, and insisting that the 2019 Universal Pictures adaptation of his 1981 musical inspired by T.S. Eliot’s 1939 poetry book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats so damaged him and rendered the need for a therapy dog to accompany him in-flight sure is something.

Here’s the full excerpt of the catty situation from Variety:

And then there’s “Cats,” which hit theaters in 2019 and was a cinematic bomb that launched a thousand memes, one that was excoriated by critics and ignored by the public. Lloyd Webber says the source material was sold to Amblin, which after trying to turn it into a Steven Spielberg-directed animated feature, eventually handed the reins to Tom Hooper, who had helmed “Les Misérables” and “The King’s Speech.” That proved to be a disastrous decision, according to the composer.

“‘Cats’ was off-the-scale all wrong,” says Lloyd Webber. “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.”

That puppy has been a constant companion of Lloyd Webber’s during lockdown. They have grown so attached that he’s even figured out a way to bring the dog to New York the next time he travels to the city.

“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,” says Lloyd Webber. “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.’”

This story burst into the Internet’s awareness because of a tweet from Twitter’s UK Curation Lead Declan Cashin dishing up the goods:

However, there are some people—dozens!—who maintain contrary opinions and enjoyed Cats, the movie, as some replies to Cashin’s tweet demonstrate.

Cats will go down in history as the sort of film that is so extra and inexplicable in its choices it develops a cult following—pre-pandemic, there were already special Cats midnight screenings and themed sing-alongs. And of course, there are plenty of people who would tell you they already hated Cats, the musical, and/or Andrew Lloyd Weber, long before Tom Hooper stepped into the ring. The claws always seem to be coming out here.

Cats in Cats the movie Musical

(via Variety, images: Universal Pictures)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.