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'Cats' rereleased with 'some improved visual effects'

Francesca Hayward as Victoria and Robbie Fairchild as

Francesca Hayward as Victoria and Robbie Fairchild as Munkustrap in "Cats." Credit: Universal Pictures

"Cats" is hoping for a second life in theaters after being clawed by critics and snubbed by moviegoers.

The film's production company, Universal Pictures, announced over the weekend that it would release a new version of "Cats" with "some improved visual effects," according to The Hollywood Reporter. It's an extremely rare move for a finished film that has already been released to the moviegoing public. The changes reportedly are being made at the request of director Tom Hooper ("Les Misérables").

A memo from Universal reportedly stated that some theaters would be able to download the new version by Sunday, while others would receive a physical copy on a hard drive by Tuesday.

A big-studio spectacle based on one of Broadway's longest-running shows, "Cats" features a star-studded cast that includes James Corden, Rebel Wilson, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift and Judi Dench, yet the film has unexpectedly become a Christmas turkey. Worrisome signs began in summer, when a trailer revealing the film's unusual look — live dancers coated in CGI kitty-fur — drew a mix of derision and horror from online viewers. The film also was accused of "whitewashing" its Kenya-born lead actress, Francesca Hayward, who plays a white cat named Victoria. The film earned a scant $6.5 million over its opening weekend and received a startlingly low C+ audience grade from comScore.

Exactly what changes have been made to the film were not revealed. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal has said that the film's running time would not be affected. 

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