Universal Pictures has one of the biggest flops in movie history on its hands. On opening day, Cats took in just $2.6 million, which doesn't scratch the surface of the film's $95 million production budget. The musical earned a total of $6.5 million on opening weekend.
In an unprecedented move on Friday, Universal notified theaters that it was pulling the film and replacing it with an updated version with "improved visual effects."
The swap was made via digital download in a satellite uplink on Sunday, Dec. 22.
For theaters that couldn't access the server, Universal shipped digital prints on hard drives that will arrive by Tuesday, Dec. 24.
Movie managers tell The Hollywood Reporter that swapping out a major theatrical release in mid-run is unheard of.
Cats stars Jennifer Hudson (pictured above), Taylor Swift, Dame Judi Dench, and Francesca Hayward in the CATastrophic film adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical.
According to published reports, Universal's "improved visual effects" include the removal of human hands from at least one of the cats. Other improvements include blurring the creepy photorealistic cat fur that appears to grow from human skin.
The 1st trailer revealing the film's nightmare-inducing "digital fur technology" resulted in a massive backlash on YouTube. Cat lovers were horrified by house cats with human faces and hands.
Moviegoers say the star-studded cast resemble escapees from a laboratory that conducts animal experiments.
Fans of the Broadway musical wondered why Universal didn't use CGI cats with voiceovers by the star-studded cast.
Imagine the uproar if Disney plastered Beyonce's face on Nala in the Lion King.
Remember last week when director Tom Hooper laughed at the negative reaction to the trailer? He isn't laughing now.
Variety.com writes, "At the end of the day, one wonders whether Hooper has even spent much time around cats."