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Octopus TV Failure Awards – Cats : Boxing Day / Litter Box Special by Andrew Eborn

Updated: Dec 28, 2019

Octopus TV Failure Awards – Cats Boxing Day / Litter Box Special by Andrew Eborn

Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV Ltd and Knot The Truth Ltd, is a renowned international lawyer, strategic business adviser, producer, broadcaster, writer, columnist, futurologist and in high demand as a presenter, magician and speaker around the world.

Andrew Eborn is now working across the IP value chain including the creation and licensing of content in all media from production, publishing, distribution, supply of talent, management, promotion, immersive technology and holograms.

For many years Andrew Eborn has empowered companies to face the challenges of changing markets, maximise the return on their rights and assist with the strategic development of their businesses.

In this weekly series, Andrew Eborn, President of Octopus TV and Knot The Truth and Founder of the Octopus TV Failure Awards, shines a light on the products and services, brand extensions and campaigns that failed to take off and have as a result earned entry into The Octopus TV Failure Awards.

As Andrew points out “We always celebrate success whilst hiding the failures that led to that success. The Octopus TV Failure Awards finally give failure the attention it deserves. If necessity is the mother of invention then failure is the father of success. From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.”

Hope you all had a cracking Christmas.

Question : What do you get if you mix a classic collection of poems with a record breaking musical, a galaxy of A list stars, an Oscar–winning director and a US$100 million budget?

Answer: A Christmas Turkey

This week saw the release of one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year – Cats!

Cats is one of the longest running musicals in West End and Broadway history. It ran for 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway. Based on T.S. Eliot’s 1939 classic poetry collection "Old Possum's Books of Practical Cats", Cats tells the story of a tribe of cats called the Jellicles and the night of the Jellicle Ball when Old Deuteronomy - played by Judi Dench in the movie- makes the Jellicle Choice and decides which cat will be reborn into a new Jellicle life and ascend to the Heaviside Layer.

But what is a Jellicle Cat I hear you cry?

"Jellicle cats" are first mentioned in T.S. Eliot's 1933 poem "Five-Finger Exercises,"

In Eliot's poem "The Song of the Jellicles" Jellicle cats were depicted as scruffy black and white cats. The name "Jellicle" comes from Eliot’s poem "Pollicle Dogs and Jellicle Cats", where "Pollicle dogs" is an abbreviation of "poor little dogs" and "Jellicle cats" of "dear little cats".

Cats – the Mew vie

With a budget of over US$100m Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Miserables, The Danish Girl) brings Andrew Lloyd Webber's record-breaking stage musical to the silver screen. The cast is a dream list of A listers with James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and introduces Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in her feature film debut.

The movie features Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic music and a world-class cast of dancers under Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.

The publicity promises that “the film reimagines the musical for a new generation with spectacular production design, state-of-the-art technology, and dance styles ranging from classical ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street dance to tap.

What could possibly go wrong?


Cat fight

Midnight. Not a sound from the pavement….until the reporting embargo was lifted – coincidentally at the same time as the Trump Impeachment vote hit the headlines.

A good time to release bad news.

Christmas is a wonderful time for bringing everyone together.. and come together the critics did!

Cats was the purrfect gift for the critics.

Cats is distributed by Universal and the critics were universal in clambering for the purrfect pussy puns, hairball hohohos - the claws – not Santa - were out for Christmas…

Tim Robey from The Telegraph gave the film zero stars describing it “ a sinister, all-time disaster from which no one emerges unscathed

Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post said the movie is “a total disaster“ "Please wipe this movie from my 'Memory.'"

David Sexton, The Evening Standard claimed it was “nearly as obscene as The Human Centipede”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone : “A Broadway Musical Adaptation Straight Outta the Litter Box” "This disastrous attempt to bring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical to the screen shouldn’t happen to a dog."

Alison Willmore, Vulture. "To assess Cats as good or bad feels like the entirely wrong axis on which to see it. It is, with all affection, a monstrosity."

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardiana purr-fectly dreadful hairball of woe —“.

Watching Cats Is Like a Descent into Madness — Matt Goldberg, Collider.

Jill Gutowitz, ELLE.comCats Is A Nightmare That Won't End

The Cats Movie Is a Boring Disaster Filled With Joyless Pussies — Kevin Fallon, Daily Beast.

Richard Lawson, Vanity FairA Tragical Mess of Mistoffelees”.

John Anderson, The Wall Street Journal Going to the Dogs

Cats leaves behind a memory that's best forgottenBrian Lowry, CNN.

Kevin Maher, The Timesmusical mess is one for the litter tray”

David Sexton, The Evening StandardNearly as obscene as The Human Centipede”

Twitter’s litter tray

Seeing so many A listers in what could be career destroying roles set social media alight.

Witnessing the various actors hissing, wriggling and writhing conjured up memories of George Galloway licking a saucer of milk given to him by Rula Lenska in the Big Brother House “would you like me to be the cat? “

The image of Idris Elba dressed in lycra playing Macavity the Mystery Cat, caused the cinema audience to laugh out loud – Idris’ tough man image shattered with sparkling spandex.

Flaws and claws

The digital effects are clearly unsettling – bizarre humanoid cats.

In some scenes the cats are feline-sized whilst in others they are human-sized.

Most cats have been spayed and had their bumps and bulges removed – most apart from the brilliant Taylor Swift who is a busty Bombalurina #Mamories

The Twittersphere cackled with titters about Jason Derulo’s CGI-isized bulge. Poor Rum Tum Tugger - Tiny Tim at Christmas became Tiny Tum the todgerless Tom….

The digital effects had clearly not been finished. One scene contains Judi Dench’s hand with her wedding ring.

Mew – sic

Many of the actors are not known for their singing causing one critic to call the movie a “tone deaf grotesquerie”

Judi Dench was going to be the original Grizabella in the stage show before an achilles injury forced her out. Her part was then given to Elaine Paige.

In the movie, the great Dame looked like the lion in The Wizard of Oz – coincidentally also released in 1939, the year TS Eliot’s "Old Possum's Books of Practical Cats was published.

Send in the clowns

But the film is not without its merits.

Francesca Hayward, a principal dancer for the Royal Ballet, plays Victoria with beauty and grace throughout.

Jennifer Hudson, who won an Oscar in 2007 for her role as Effie in Dreamgirls, as Grizabella, the former ‘glamour cat’ sings a very tearful version of ‘Memories’.

Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots added some fun comedic moments - Rebel without a cause maybe but Rebel with some claws – absolutely!

James Corden as Bustopher Jones brought a Cheshire cat smile with his rendition of The Cat About Town.

On The Ellen DeGeneres Show about his 'method' preparation for playing Bustophe Jonest, James Corden pointed out "I'm like Daniel Day-Lewis. I immerse the character. You know what I mean? I've just been living as a cat. I don't use the bathroom. I have a litter tray."

James Corden confessed to Radio 2 “I haven’t seen it. I’ve heard it’s terrible”

Taylor Swift said to Vogue “I really had an amazing time with Cats,’” adding “I think I loved the weirdness of it. I loved how I felt I’d never get another opportunity to be like this in my life.”

How many lives does Cats have?

In an unprecedented move, on the film's opening day, Universal advised thousands of cinemas that they would be receiving an updated version with "some improved visual effects," according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. A new edit – catnip, perhaps?

Embrace the feline failure - Don’t cry over spilled milk

The cat-astrophic reviews, however, should not put you off seeing it. Curiosity may, in fact, stop the cat being killed.

Cats may well be a dogs’ dinner but rather than spay the movie we should embrace its awfulness.

Cats could turn out to be a cult classic in the same way as the 2003 independently produced The Room starring Tommy Wiseau.

The Room is about an amiable banker whose friends betray him one by one. It was described as "the Citizen Kane of bad movies" with Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V Club declaring it to be "the greatest bad movie of our time…The Room is nearly an anti-film—an inane and unintentionally surreal soap opera, filled with non sequiturs, confused characters, and gratuitous, anatomically incorrect sex."

Nevertheless, The Room went on to be a cult classic and also inspired the Oscar-nominated The Disaster Artist.

Creaming it in

Cats may well be a Christmas turkey with lame openings at the Box Offices in UK (£3.4m) and US (£5m) having been savaged by the critics but the long tale may yet prove it to be a success.

I predict, however, that Cats will be the movie you will never fur-get … no matter how hard you may try!

See you next time for more fantastically fabulous failures ….

© Andrew Eborn 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewEborn and @OctopusTV

From failed products and services to campaigns and ads we would rather forget, we want to encourage organisations and brands to be better at learning from failures not just ignoring them and pretending they never happened.

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In addition to international recognition and glittering prizes the winners will receive the much valued TOFA

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” - Henry Ford

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” - C.S. Lewis

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” - Winston Churchill

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