The naming of cats is a difficult matter. Still, it’s worth keeping track as Grizabella, Mister Mistoffelees, and more Jellicles ready for the close-ups.
Yes, Cats is clawing its way to movie theatres with Les Misérables director Tom Hooper at the helm. A host of stars are already tapped to appear in the Working Title film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber and T. S. Eliot’s feline phenomenon, but several details are being kept under wraps.
Here’s what we do know so far.
What’s a Jellicle cat?
Good question! Jellicles do and Jellicles can, Jellicles can and Jellicles do, Jellicle cats sing Jellicle chants, Jellicles old and Jellicles new. Does that help?
When is Cats coming out?
The Hooper-directed film is slated to premiere December 20, with production having wrapped at the end of March.
Who’s in it?
The cast includes Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella the Glamour Cat, pop star Taylor Swift as Bombalurina, stage and screen veteran Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat, Tony winner James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Tony and Oscar winner Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, Robert Fairchild as Munkustrap, Mette Towley as Jemima, Idris Elba as Macavity, and Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward and Steven McRae as Victoria and Skimbleshanks.
So Taylor Swift and Ian McKellen are really going to be in those furry cat suits?
Is there any other way to do Cats? Actually, there is. Hooper revealed at CinemaCon 2019 that the design of the cats was achieved through motion capture, meaning that somewhere out there there is footage of Idris Elba sneaking around in a green suit and those dots on his face. In a featurette released ahead of the first trailer, Hooper referred to this process as "Digital Fur Technology," which only leads to more questions.
So, they're dancing humans that will somehow look like dancing cats?
That's the plan. In fact, Hamilton Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler is attached (taking over for the originally reported Wayne McGregor) as choreographer, so we'll see some variation of those iconic (if slightly disturbing) feline-human hybrids twirling about.
But they're be human-sized?
Whoa, slow down there. The cats of Cats are indeed the size of...cats. Just like in the stage production, oversized set pieces (furniture, kitchen appliances, boots, milk jugs, etc.) help create the illusion of a cat's perspective.
I’ve worn out the cast recording. Are there any new songs?
Yes! Two months before the premiere, Lloyd Webber and Swift revealed that they collaborated on "Beautiful Ghosts," a new tune written specifically for the film. Victoria the White Cat sings the song in the movie, though Swift offered her own rendition with a studio release. Lloyd Webber is no stranger to reworking his scores for the stage with pop stars. In fact, he earned an Oscar for the Evita movie’s “You Must Love Me,” performed by Madonna. While "Beautiful Ghosts" recently earned a Golden Globe nomination, it did not make the Oscars shortlist for Best Original Song.
Does it have the same plot as the show?
Interesting word choice with "plot," but yes. A bunch of Jellicle cats show off their Jellicle talents under the Jellicle moon until one is chosen to ascend to the Heaviside Layer, presumably to 1) die, 2) be reincarnated. As the choice for the new song suggests, Victoria plays a larger role in the movie, serving as the audience's window into the Jellicle realm.
How long is it?
The runtime comes in at 110 minutes, about 20 minutes shorter than the stage show (not including intermission).
Is there any footage yet?
Yes, there is, and no, we do not have time to discuss it. Watch the trailer below.
Is this really happening?