Dear Hollywood, think before using CGI cats for Tiger King adaptations

With our current obsession, Netflix series Tiger King, looking set to get the Hollywood upgrade with a scripted series based on Joe Exotic in the works, I implore the good people of Hollywood – please don’t ruin an adaptation with shoddy CGI cats.

Not again.

Before Tiger King: Murder Mayhem and Madness introduced us to the larger than life character of Joe Maldonado-Passage, AKA Joe Exotic, and his one-hundred-and-something tigers, lions and ligers, a series was already in the works based on an earlier podcast around the former Oklahoma zoo owner-cum-prisoner.

There is talk that Kate McKinnon is both executive producing the series and playing the role of Big Cat Rescue’s Carole Baskin – Joe’s nemesis and half the reason he is in prison, serving 22 years for his alleged role in a hire-to-kill plot – which gets a big tick.

Brad Pitt’s name has been tossed around by Joe as his number one dream to play him in any story of his life. It is really a dream, sorry to say, but still, it’s another tick from us.

Carole Baskin herself has now said she wants the producers to shun using any live tigers and go with CGI to bring the GW Exotic Animal Park to life.

We’re hesitant to give that a tick.

‘Kate McKinnon is a wonderful actress. Big Cat Rescue implores Kate McKinnon to not use real big cats and cubs in the making of her series,’ Carole said.

‘The Wondery podcast, which is the basis for her series, explores the rampant breeding, abuse and exploitation of big cats by breeder and exhibitor Joe Exotic,’ she continued in a statement provided to Entertainment Weekly.

‘It would be cruel to use real big cats in a television series about cruelty to big cats.’

While I understand the need to want to keep things cruelty-free, remember what happened last time Hollywood used CGI to bring to life a bunch of cats?

Yeah, didn’t go down so well, did it? *Cough* Judi Dench’s hand *cough*.

Before PETA comes for me, I am not suggesting that the showrunners use actual cats. No way. I’m suggesting we ditch the cats altogether. Or, at least, only use their presence sparingly.

‘No cats in a series about cats, Mel? Why, you’re crazier than a cut snake,’ I hear you cry.

All I’m saying is, think really carefully before you throw CGI at the situation – unless you want it to be as messy as Joe’s music career.

Cats (the film) showed us that CGI felines seldom go down well on the big screen. Is it such a good idea to make a Tiger King series (and surely, a film won’t be far behind) with fake kitties?

From the presence of human body parts failing to be edited into fluffy paws, to the general freakiness of it all – with many comparing the likeness to the kind of filters you use on Snapchat – it didn’t paint the world of CGI in the best light for a minute there.

It was even the laughing stock of its own cast, and you know you’ve messed up when those who agreed to be turned into cats themselves laugh about the end result.

Unless you can guarantee some sort of Life Of Pi-level of CGI wonder, you’re wasting your time, money and the patience of audiences.

Cats showed us that just because you can use a computer to create something, doesn’t mean you always should.

Plus, the drama away from the tigers is juicy enough we don’t need a full-on feline-in-your-face-fiesta.

Between Joe and ‘that b*tch’ Carole Baskin (his words, not ours – look at us, we’re already getting caught up in the theatrics…), his three husbands, the ongoing feuds between Jeff Lowe and Doc Antle, a potential appearance by Britney Spears a la MTV VMAs (we can dream) and the the banger that is I Saw A Tiger, the actual tigers are a peripheral plotline.

It’s already going to cost the CGI budget enough as it is to get John Finley’s teeth just right, even if Channing Tatum steps up for the film.

I fear that by focusing on the CGI, the series is setting itself up to fail the way Cats did. That film had the power and casting to be brilliant, but lost out due to stuffing the effects so shockingly.

This really was not the fault of the visual effects artists, I want to add – those legends had to create cats out of countless actors in a short timeframe (the film was still being edited hours before its premiere). Teamed with a pretty lacklustre script, the whole thing will forever be relinquished to the kitty litter.

Not all is lost, though.

When Hollywood spends money, and has the time, CGI can be brilliant – I bring your attention back to Game Of Thrones, with the Stark Direwolves.

Sure, everyone blew their gasket that Jon Snow’s Ghost didn’t get a hug, and appeared only for a hot minute in the final season, but after we received the explanation this was due to the need to ‘keep things simple’ it’s clear the decision to spend CGI money wisely to get the effects just right meant showrunners could only use the characters sparingly.

Even Game Of Thrones knew their limitations, and only had appropriate interactions with the tricky computer-dogs, because to see them in more episodes would mean the budget would be spread out, which would mean less money to make it just right.

Which equals sub-par creations.

Which is one thing the showrunners got right in that final season…

So with that in mind, I truly implore the minds who take on all the these inevitable Tiger King adaptations to think seriously about how much we need to see some crappy CGI kitties run around an enclosure for two hours.

Because if the effects are rubbish, not even casting Brad Pitt as the titular king can save it from the critics.

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