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Andrew Lloyd Webber was so disturbed by ‘Cats’ movie that he bought a dog

The composer called Tom Hooper's 2019 adaptation of 'Cats' "off-the-scale all wrong"

By Emma Kelly

Jennifer Hudson in 'Cats'
Jennifer Hudson in 'Cats' (Picture: Universal)

Andrew Lloyd Webber bought a therapy dog after the “off-the-scale all wrong” film adaptation of his musical ‘Cats’.

The musical was brought to the big screen in 2019 by director Tom Hooper, with an all-star cast including Jennifer Hudson, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jason Derulo and Rebel Wilson.

But despite the impressive cast and the popularity of the stage show, the movie was a critical disaster, sparking hundreds of savage memes and winning Worst Picture at the Golden Raspberry Awards. 

Lloyd Webber has called the film “off-the-scale all wrong”, and explained he was so disturbed by the adaptation that he went out and bought a dog.

The 73-year-old told Variety: “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.’

The composer has even registered the puppy as a therapy dog with an airline so he can accompany him to New York on trips.

Lloyd Webber said: “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.

“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.’”

Based on T.S. Eliot’s poetry collection ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, ’Cats’ premiered on London’s West End in 1981 with Elaine Paige starring as Grizabella and Brian Blessed as Old Deuteronomy and Bustopher Jones.

The show follows a tribe of cats called the Jellicles, who decide who will ascend to the Heaviside layer and come back to a new life.

While the musical is the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End show, the film adaptation was a box office bomb upon its release, estimated to have lost Universal Pictures $114million (£83million). 

It was mocked for its visual effects and CGI errors, including Dame Judi Dench’s human hand and wedding ring appearing instead of Old Deuteronomy’s paw in one scene, and even its stars have distanced themselves from the movie, with James Corden even refusing to watch it.

However, Jennifer Hudson, whose performance of the song ‘Memory’ as Grizabella was one of the few complimented features of the film, recently defended ‘Cats’, calling the movie “misunderstood”.

The Oscar-winner told Total Film: “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.”