Everything We Know About Cats (2019) So Far

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Everything We Know About Cats (2019) So Far

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Savannah Sher
Get ready to attend the Jellicle Ball! Meow! We're looking at all the information we have about this 2019 release. You probably heard the buzz that the lauded Broadway musical “Cats” was being adapted for the big screen and wondered how they'd possibly pull it off. After seeing the initial trailer, critics and viewers were even more perplexed by this project, so we're taking the time today to do a deep dive into the production, casting and key figures behind this much-anticipated film. Join MsMojo as we explore Everything We Know About the Cats Movie So Far.
Transcript
Everything We Know About the Cats Movie So Far

Get ready to attend the Jellicle Ball! Welcome to MsMojo and today we’re doing a deep dive into Everything We Know About the Cats Movie So Far.



For this essay, we’re looking at all the information we have about this 2019 release.



You probably heard the buzz that the lauded Broadway musical “Cats” was being adapted for the big screen and wondered how they’d possibly pull it off. After seeing the initial trailer, critics and viewers were even more perplexed by this project, so we’re taking the time today to do a deep dive into the production, casting and key figures behind this much-anticipated film.



First, let’s go back to the very beginning. What IS “Cats” the musical? The story told in the stage show was actually already adapted from another medium: a book of poetry by T.S. Eliot entitled “Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats”. It’s a strange and quirky work, and in fact many of the songs that made it into the final Broadway production are based directly on individual poems from the collection. Famed composer Andrew Lloyd Webber began working on adapting the work in the late ‘70s, and by the early ‘80s “Cats” had its debut in both London’s West End and on Broadway. For a long time, “Cats” held the record for being the longest running musical in both markets, showing for 21 years in London and 18 in New York.





“Cats” has been given credit for kicking off what is referred to as the “megamusical phenomenon”, which popularized Broadway musicals for the masses, and changed the medium by putting more of a focus on widely appealing big-budget productions that would appeal to families and tourists. “Cats” has already been adapted to film once before, in a 1998 movie that ended up going directly to video and was essentially a filmed version of the stage show.



So what is “Cats” actually about? Well, it tells the story about a group of “Jellicles” (which is how T.S. Eliot referred to “dear little cats”) who must choose one from among their own to go to what is essentially cat heaven and hopefully return reborn for a new life. It’s admittedly a bit of a strange story, which lends itself to plenty of fun and nonsense.





Now that we have all the background about the story, let’s talk about the upcoming release, which is set to hit theatres on December 20th, 2019. When the trailer was released on July 18th, people were seriously perplexed by it, with some even questioning if it was just one big joke. The reviews of the clips shown were overwhelmingly quite negative, with many deeming the mix of live action and CGI to be unnerving, verging into the uncanny valley. Seeing so many big name stars (we’ll get to that later) dressed up in catsuits was also pretty comical, and seemed difficult to take seriously.





So who’s actually behind this adaptation? Perhaps most importantly, Tom Hooper is directing, and it will be something of a musical follow up. He’s no stranger to adapting hugely popular stage shows for the screen, because he did it with 2012’s “Les Misérables”. He also directed “The King’s Speech”, for which he took home the Best Director Oscar.



Andy Blankenbuehler, who is known for his work on “Hamilton”, is also involved with the project. He actually did the choreography for the 2016 Broadway revival of “Cats”, so he’s perfectly positioned to have a hand in creating the dance sequences in the film.



Of course, the film, like the play, is a musical, and many of the fan favorite songs will be present, along with at least one new tune that has been announced for Victoria to sing.





Because this story is most familiar to people as it appears on the stage, many have wondered how it will be adapted for a movie. The first interesting thing, which was on display in the trailer, is the use of CGI, which was achieved with motion capture cat suits that the performers wore. The film’s director called this “digital fur technology” and trust us, we’ve got a lot of questions. What will add an extra element of whimsy to the production is the fact that the cats in the film are supposed to be the size of average cats, so the set pieces around them will seem gigantic, giving viewers the real feline perspective.







If this movie was being produced with unknown actors in the major roles, we have a feeling that it wouldn’t be getting nearly as much attention. To call the cast star-studded would be a major understatement. Megastar Taylor Swift will be portraying Bombalurina, Jennifer Hudson will be taking on the role of Grizabella, Ian McKellen will appear as Gus the Theatre Cat, Idris Elba will be Macavity, Judi Dench is playing Old Deuteronomy, James Corden will be seen as Bustopher Jones, Rebel Wilson will add her typical hilarity to Jennyanydots and Jason Derulo is Rum Tum Tugger. Interestingly, Judi Dench actually has a history with “Cats” that many may not be aware of. She was set to appear in the original West End production, but a string of injuries meant she was forced to back out, so the fact that she was able to come back to the story decades later seems nearly miraculous.





The role of Victoria, the White Cat went to Francesca Hayward, who may not be a major Hollywood name - yet. She’s actually the principal dancer at London’s Royal Ballet, which is important since her role is one that features a major dance solo. By choosing Hayward to play this role instead of a more recognizable actor, the producers have shown that they’re committed to making dance a major part of this production. There has already been controversy about her appearance in the trailer however, because though Hayward is of mixed race, her skin tone is not at all evident in her costume because the cat who she is portraying is all white.





Are you excited to see “Cats”? Let us know in the comments!
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