Upon its release, the trailer was the top trending topic on Twitter and made the front pages of newspapers for its CGI human-cat hybrids, with many horrified that some of the creatures had breasts.
Some fans also criticised the “nightmarish” felines for being too small and out of proportion with their surroundings.
American playwright and novelist Paul Rudnick summed up the consensus when he wrote: “The Cats trailer scared me. It’s what would happen if an elderly hoarder with a Hummel figurine fetish dropped acid, ran into the street naked and was happy for the very first time, right before getting hit by a bus.”
In a new interview with The Times, Hooper explained how he went back and changed the film after the horrified response from fans.
“On some level, the reaction to the trailer was insane,” he said. “But I do think that there were lessons to be learnt.”
Despite the film being weeks away from release at the time of the interview, it was still not finished. “I think that, altogether, there might be 2,500 people in the visual effects department working right now to finish the film,” said Hooper.
“It was quite an amazing amount of feedback to get, very fast, on the design. I never intended, obviously, to make people feel uneasy, so I thought, ‘If this is being commented upon, then what can I learn from it?’”
Addressing interviewer Kevin Maher, he added: “Initially, my dream was to take your face and make you more catlike by blending the fur in perfectly to the skin, but always keeping the focus on the performance…
“The problem with the trailer was that the faces had got lost in the effects. So I went back to the designs in August and a lot of those comments helped to guide me in what we did.”
Cats will be released on 20 December, 2019.