Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Cats is getting a movie, and here's everything we know about musical adaptation so far. The Cats movie will be directed by Tom Hooper and boasts an all-star cast, with vets like Judi Dench and Ian McKellen performing alongside relative newcomers like Taylor Swift and Jennifer Hudson.
Cats is notable for being one of the rare musicals to be sung all the way through with no pauses made for scenes of dialogue. Webber adapted T.S. Eliot's 1939 book of poetry Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Eliot's book is whimsical in tone, with 15 poems in all. These poems served as the basis for Webber's musical adaptation, with songs like "The Naming of Cats" and "The Old Gumbie Cat" serving as titles for both songs and poems. The musical made its Broadway debut in October 1982 after a successful London premiere in 1981 and has gone on to be one of the longest-running musicals of all time.
This will be a big step in the evolution of the Cats musical in pop culture, introducing the musical to those who haven't yet had the chance to see it performed live on stage. With curiosity swirling around the film, let's take a look at what has been confirmed about Cats, including the release date, cast, and director.
The Cats Release Date Is Quickly Approaching
Cats releases on December 20, 2019. The release date was confirmed in August 2018, taking the slot previously reserved for the Wicked film adaptation. December has proven to be a popular month in recent years for the release of big movie musicals. In the last few years alone, audiences have been able to enjoy The Greatest Showman, Les Miserables, La La Land, and Into the Woods during their December releases.
The Cats Cast Includes Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, And Jennifer Hudson
If you want to talk about a stacked cast, look no further than Cats. The first wave of casting news came in summer 2018 when it was announced the newest members of the Cats cast were Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theater Cat, and James Corden as Bustopher Jones. In October, Idris Elba signed on to play the villain McCavity. Other notable cast members include Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Jaso Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, and Ray Winstone as Growltiger.
The Cats Director Is A Movie Musical Pro
This isn't Hooper's first time directing a musical, nor one adapted for film, or one which operates on such a fantastic scale. Hooper directed 2012's Les Miserables, starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, and Amanda Seyfried. The film was notable for the fact that, to add authenticity, all of the actors sang live during filming with musical backing tracks being played on set and later edited out with the orchestra inserted into the film. Additional Hooper directing credits include The King's Speech and The Danish Girl. It's worth noting Hooper's work has often been involved in awards seasons conversation, with Les Mis, The King's Speech, and The Danish Girl standing out amidst the rest of his work for this reason. Given this, it's possible his work on Cats could be recognized once again during awards season 2020 - if the film is, indeed, award-worthy.
The Cats Story Will Make Audiences Swoon
The musical follows a tribe of cats known as the Jellicles, who live in a closed community and don't appear to belong to any humans. Over the course of one night at the auspicious Jellicle Ball, the Jellicles come together to decide which of their tribe will be chosen by the group's leader, Old Deuteronomy, to ascend to the Heaviside Layer (the Jellicles' version of heaven) and return to the group anew. The Jellicles are aware of a human audience watching them, often breaking the fourth wall to address the humans and give them the low-down on what life is like as a Jellicle and their social hierarchy.
How Cats Will Adapt The Size Of The Cats
With Hooper on board, one might think he'll go realism once again in his staging and filming of Cats. But, unlike past musical productions which feature humans in make-up and camp costumes to help transform them into felines, Hooper will be using the magic of motion-capture technology to help make Cats come to life.
IndieWire reported in April on Hooper's appearance at CinemaCon 2019, which included confirmation the cats would be presented as life-like as possible with the power of mo-cap. It seems like the cat elements - fur, whiskers, feline eyes, paws, and so forth - will be added in post-production to transform the human actors. But the actors will be cat-sized in the sense that sets have been built to mimic a cat's perspective and spatial relationship to the world as a means of adding authenticity to the film.
The Cats Trailer Is Coming Soon
Cats is six months away, but there's still been no word on when a trailer will be released. More interesting is the fact that we've seen neither hide nor hair of images from the set, teasers, or a social media account created to promote the film. Yes, Hooper brought a behind-the-scenes first-look reel to CinemaCon 2019, but that video wasn't released to the public, leaving only a select group of folks in the know on this film's look.
A Cats trailer in some form should be coming any day now. For a movie to be released in winter, summer is typically the right time for the marketing campaign to begin. Considering this is poised to be a major holiday movie, the lack of teaser material from set is curious, to say the least, especially when filming wrapped in March. Keep those fingers crossed something new arrives soon.
- Cats (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019