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Animated film adaptations of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats have been considered many times over the years, including adaptations of the musical. As yet, none have come to fruition.

Disney

T S Eliot specifically did not want his Jellicle Cats turned into cutesy cartoon cats and turned down a Disney animated feature of Old Possum's. Disney went on to make The Aristocats instead. According to Andrew Lloyd Webber, one of the first things Eliot's widow, Valerie, told him when he met her to get the rights to make the musical was "You, realise, don't you, that Tom turned down Disney?"[1]

Amblimation 1994

In 1994, it was announced that Steven Spielberg's Amblimation was set to begin production on a full-length animated feature version of Cats, to be released by Universal Pictures in 1997.[2]

In September 1995, the Really Useful Group's website stated:

Production has begun on the full-length, animated feature version of Cats. Based on a screenplay by Tony Award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard, the Amblimation production will be released by Universal Pictures in 1997 and will feature a new song written for the film.
— www.reallyuseful.com[3]

Under the direction of Spielberg, the film was to be set during the Blitz in London (1940-1941). However, Amblimation ended up closing in 1997 and the project was thus cancelled. The 1998 Cats film as we know it then went into production instead.

Amblin Entertainment and Steven Spielberg went on to be involved with the 2019 Cats movie, and elements of their early concept art for the animated feature are recognisable in the style of the finished movie.

Resources:

  • Information from Hans Bacher's blog.[4][5][6]
  • Luc Desmarchelier also blogs about the development.[7]

Gallery

Concept art by Hans Bacher and Luc Desmarchelier

Character concept art by Nico Marlet

References

  1. First Cast: CATS - The Musical (BBC Radio 2, 29 Dec 2019) Youtube.com
  2. MOVIESAnimated ‘Cats’: Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation is set..., Los Angeles Times. September 23, 1994.
  3. Cats Facts - September 1995, www.reallyuseful.com - via the Wayback Machine.
  4. Hans Bacher's blog - research
  5. Hans Bacher's blog - More Cats
  6. Hans Bacher's blog - London
  7. Luc Desmarchelier' blog
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