Hollywood VFX society slams the Oscars over 'Cats' joke

James Corden, izquierda, y Rebel Wilson presentan el premio a los mejores efectos visuales en los Oscar el domingo 9 de febrero de 2020 en el Teatro Dolby de Los Angeles. (Foto AP/Chris Pizzello)
James Corden and Rebel Wilson at the Oscars (Credit: AP/Chris Pizzello)

While James Corden and Rebel Wilson were praised for how 'sporting' they were to laugh at the failure of their own movie, it's ruffled the fur of others.

At the Oscars on Sunday night, the pair took to the stage in cat outfits to rib the critical and box office bomb that was Tom Hooper's Cats, the disastrous adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical in which they both starred.

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“Nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” joked Wilson, as the pair presented the award for Best Visual Effects to the team behind 1917.

But Hollywood's Visual Effects Society didn't enjoy being the butt of this particular gag.

Wilson in Cats (Credit: Universal)
Wilson in Cats (Credit: Universal)

“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,” it said in a statement.

“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.

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“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.”

Wilson played the role of Jennyanydots in the movie, while Corden was bon viveur Bustopher Jones.

Judi Dench in <i>Cats</i> (Universal)
Judi Dench in Cats (Universal)

But despite an all-star cast, also including Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson, as well as Royal Ballet star Francesca Hayward, the movie tanked, making just $71.9 million at the worldwide box office.

While many critics pulled the film apart for its various shortcomings, some noted 'an uncanny valley between mangy realism and dystopian artifice', and 'uncanny images... sure to haunt viewers for generations' in its design, if not its VFX.

The Visual Effects Society represents more than 4000 artists working in the movies.