Before reading the nominees for Best Visual Effects, the duo said (trading lines), “As castmembers of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance …” then they added in unison, “of good visual effects!” The line drew laughs and applause.
But the Visual Effects Society wasn’t laughing at the in-joke Monday, saying in a statement that read in part, “The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.”
Oh, the fur is flying.
Cats, of course, was among the year’s biggest flea bombs, opening to an itchy $6.5 million domestically. Its reviews generally were catty at best, and catastrophic at worst.
“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,” VES said today (read the full statement below). “It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.”
Legit, but perhaps the Corden-Wilson dis was clawing back over a crack that host Patton Owsalt made at the Universal film’s expense during the VES Awards last month. “The Star Wars franchise ended after 50 years, and after one screening, so did the Cats franchise,” he said to laughs. “Isn’t that amazing? Were you guys on strike when they made that one? What was going on there? That movie was a screensaver designed to not give me a boner.”
The smattering of filmgoers who saw Cats on its opening night likely saw a different version of the film than subsequent viewers did. On Saturday, December 22, the day after the pic’s official release, Universal sent a memo to theaters saying that it would be sending out a new version that included “improved visual effects.”
Deadline also learned that director Tom Hooper was working on visual effects for the big-screen adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash Broadway musical literally until the New York premiere December 16.
On Christmas Eve, Corden gave an interview in which he said he hadn’t seen Cats but “heard it’s terrible.”
Here is the VES’ full statement today:
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.
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 best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.
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.
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.