What was the Internet-famed feline Grumpy Cat's reaction to the news that she would be a movie star,
conveyed to her by her Los Angeles talent manager?
"She hates movies," said Ben Lashes of his client, whose recognizable, permanently frowning face sparked a viral meme sensation.
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Nine months ago, Grumpy Cat was an unknown housecat living Morristown, Ariz., population 227, according to the Wall Street Journal. Unbeknownst to her, the angry-looking animal would be destined for stardom, headed Hollywood for a major motion-picture deal.
Lashes is an agent for Internet cats, and Grumpy is his star client. Lashes negotiated the movie deal with Broken Road Productions, the production company behind Adam Sandler's 2011 film "Jack and Jill." The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Lashes operates his business with cats with this mantra: "What would Walt Disney do if he created Mickey Mouse and it went viral on YouTube?"
In an attempt to capitalize on Grumpy's widespread popularity, Lashes contacted Grumpy's owner, Tabatha Bundesen, of Galion, Ohio this past fall. He became the cat's agent in October and this week negotiated a deal for the film.
Grumpy is also the face of a line of bottled beverages and coffee-in-cans, another deal Lashes forged, with Grenade Beverage LLC.
Despite Grumpy's disinterest in her movie role
, she is no stranger to publicity. She was crowned the Queen of Social at this year's South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, where she met throngs of fans, according to Mashable. This week, the housecat-turned-celebrity will come to New York to promote her upcoming book, "Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book: Disgruntled Tips and Activities Designed to Put a Frown on Your Face," at the publishing industry convention BookExpo America.
So how did Grumpy become a face that is now synonymous with feelings of irritation? Last September, Bryan Bundesen, 34, a cable technician of Galion, Ohio, was visiting his sister Tabatha in Arizona. He snapped a photo of her cat, a mixed breed whose real name is Tardar Sauce. (Tabatha Bundesen, a Red Lobster waitress, says her daughter thought the cat's fur was the color of tartar sauce, but misspelled it.) Bryan Bundesen posted the photo on Reddit, according to the Wall Street Journal, where thousands of users created memes using the image and shared it, crafting sentences they thought expressed what the cat was thinking, like "I thought I could not be more disappointed…you proved me wrong."
Outside of the movie deal, the Bundesens have earned a low-six-figure sum off the cat thus far, Bryan Bundesen told the WSJ. Lashes' take is about 20 percent, clients say.
"He is really good at helping us not get taken advantage of," Bundesen said of Lashes.
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