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Cats is an upcoming feature film adaptation of the musical of the same name, based upon Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot. It is set to be released December 20th, 2019 [1].

 Premise

Over a single night, a tribe of cats called the Jellicles make what is known as "the Jellicle choice" and decide which cat will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new life.

 Production

The project is adapted by Lee Hall, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler[2] - originally announced to be Wayne McGregor who withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. Tom Hooper and Steven Spielberg act as producers for the film.

The project was first rumored in December 2013 in the Guardian[3], and more recently took hold in May 2016 by Variety[4], and little has been heard while the project has been in development. Both Anne Hathaway and Rihanna were considered for roles, but ultimately passed because of scheduling conflicts.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has announced he is writing a new song for the film[5], to be sung by Victoria the White Cat. This would make the movie score eligible for the Oscars.

Hooper has cited "astonishing new technology to transform his cast members into a breathtaking, vivid new vision of one of the most beloved musicals of all time.”

Principal photography began on December 12, 2018. The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures.

Casting

Casting announcements and rumours have come to light; some roles are confirmed, others are speculation (marked by *).

CONFIRMED CAST
Character Performer
Admetus
Alonzo
Asparagus Ian McKellen[6]
Bill Bailey
Bombalurina Taylor Swift
Bustopher Jones James Corden[7]
Carbucketty
Cassandra
Coricopat
Demeter
Grizabella Jennifer Hudson[8]
Jellylorum
Jemima Mette Towley [9]
Jennyanydots Rebel Wilson[10]
Macavity Idris Elba[11]
Mistoffelees
Mungojerrie
Munkustrap Robbie Fairchild [12]
Old Deuteronomy Judi Dench[13]
Rumpelteazer
Rum Tum Tugger Jason Derulo[14]
Skimbleshanks Steven McRae[15]
Tantomile
Victoria Francesca Hayward[16][17]

Other cast members in unconfirmed roles include Laurie DavidsonEric Underwood, and the Les Twins.

  • Auditions for an unnamed role took place in July 2018;  possibly for the role of Victoria the White Cat. Further auditions called for a last-minute addition to the cast in November 2019, likely for an ensemble role.

Speculation

  • Judi Dench playing Old Deuteronomy mirrors Andrew Lloyd Webber's similar casting choice in Starlight Express. The role of Poppa, similarly the father figure whose deep, rich voice is integral to the score, has changed gender to Mama. This change is part of a massive overhaul of the show which has sparked controversy among many fans.
  • The characters seem likely to be presented in a format that relies less on Computer Generated Imagery than initially speculated; the casting call requires strong dance skills, it seems likely that we will be seeing the performers' natural movements rather than Motion Capture, as this would not require the performers to both sing and dance.
  • The recent productions have seen new material added - "Street Cat Tugger", and Gus leading "Pekes and Pollicles" for example. Lee Hall may be directed by Andrew Lloyd Webber to use the latest versions of the show; he may refer back to the more classic material; or he may have license to re-write fresh changes.

References

  1. CATS The Movie Announced For 2019
    Andrewlloydwebber.com News, 31/08/2018
  2. "Andy Blankenbuehler will Choreograph Cats Film" Broadwayworld, 24th November 2018
  3. Cats musical may be next for film treatment, says Andrew Lloyd Webber
    The Guardian, 3rd December 2013
  4. Tom Hooper to Direct ‘Cats’ Movie for Universal
    Variety.com, 5th May 2016
  5. Andrew Lloyd Webber Pens New Song for Possible Cats Film
    Playbill.com, 5th January 2018
  6. Ian McKellen promises King Lear is in no way a 'farewell tour'
    EW.com 25th September 2018
  7. https://deadline.com/2018/12/universal-working-titles-feature-adaptation-of-andrew-lloyd-webbers-cats-rolls-cameras-1202518943/
  8. Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen Will Star in Film Version of Cats
    Playbill.com, 20th July 2018
  9. ‘Cats’: Dancer Mette Towley Joins Cast Of Universal-Working Title Film
    Deadline.com 26th September 2018
  10. Rebel Wilson to play Jennyanydots in CATS
    BroadwayWorld 19th November
  11. Idris Elba in Talks to Join Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, More in Cats Movie
    Playbill.com 16th October 2018
  12. "Robbie Fairchild to Play Munkustrap in ‘Cats’ Movie Adaptation" Variety.com, 29th November 2018
  13. Judi Dench Signs on for Cats Film
    Playbill.com October 18th 2018
  14. Cats Movie finds its Rum Tum Tugger in Jason Derulo
    Playbll.com 20th November 2018
  15. Instagram Post, 8th November 2018
    Steven McRae, Principal dancer, Royal Ballet, has announced his involvement in the film project.
  16. Instagram Post, 2nd November 2018
  17. Royal Ballet Principal Francesca Hayward Joins CATS Film as Victoria!
    Broadway World.com 1st November 2018