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Hollywood special effects artists: Don’t blame ‘Cats’ on us

Uncorrected shot of Judi Dench in ‘Cats’

In a well-timed twist, given this morning’s Oscar nominations, Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato has come out in defense of the special effects used in the film Cats.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical met with scathing reviews and disastrous box office when it opened in cinemas last month. Among the many criticisms leveled at the film, viewers attacked the visual effects, which often looked unfinished and distracting. Legato, who won Oscars for the visual effects in Titanic, Hugo and The Jungle Book takes issue with that criticism.

Related: See the bizarre CGI mistake that forced a new version of ‘Cats’ to be rushed to theaters

“Personally I don’t think [the film’s problems] were anything to do with the visual effects,” Legato told Variety. “The work that they did, that the artists created, was extraordinary. It’s the aesthetic. Do you like the aesthetic? Do you buy the scene? What happened was that the visual effects worked perfectly well in my opinion, but no one wanted to see that – or they didn’t like the aesthetic. And so the singing and dancing and the costumes and all that stuff – as beautifully pulled off as it is – doesn’t excite the audience.”

Legato also notes that visual effects technology constantly advances, but cannot cover up a “flawed” approach to a project.

Cats actually underwent the unusual move of having prints of the film pulled from theatres and replaced with an “updated” version, which corrected several glaring effects problems several weeks after release. In earlier release versions, audiences reported spotting a wedding ring on actress Judi Dench, who plays a cat in the film.