Cats is a feature film adaptation of the musical of the same name, based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T S Eliot. The film had its world premiere at the Lincoln Center in New York City on December 16, 2019. It was released theatrically in the US and UK on December 20, 2019. It is distributed by Universal Pictures.
The project is adapted by Lee Hall, with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler - originally announced to be Wayne McGregor who withdrew due to scheduling conflicts. Tom Hooper and Steven Spielberg act as producers for the film. The character designs are by Paco Delgado, who previously collaborated with Tom Hooper on "Les Miserables". the Production Design is by Eve Stewart.
The project was first rumored in December 2013 in the Guardian, and more recently took hold in May 2016 by Variety, and little was heard while the project was in development. Both Anne Hathaway and Rihanna were considered for roles, but ultimately passed because of scheduling conflicts.
Andrew Lloyd Webber announced in January 2018 he was writing a new song for the film, to be sung by Victoria the White Cat. This would make the movie score eligible for the Oscars. This new song for Victoria will be called "Beautiful Ghosts" with lyrics by Taylor Swift. It will take place directly after Memory."Beautiful Ghosts" will also be reprised by Old Deuteronomy and sung by Taylor Swift at the end credits of the movie.
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.” The set includes practical props, however, as referenced in a studio visit. Jason Derulo stated that "'Cats' uses motion-capture and other technology will be like nothing viewers have seen before." Idris Elba confirmed in an interview that the cast would not be wearing traditional costumes, relying on CGI instead.
Fiona Grace McDougal served as a vocal coach on set.
Rehearsals began in September 2018. Principal photography began on December 12, 2018, and wrapped March 2019.
In the streets of London, a car stops in an alley long enough to drop off a bag in the garbage. This is seen by a number of cats, who examine the bag. It contains a white cat named Victoria, who had been abandoned ("Overture"). The cats question whether or not she is a Jellicle cat ("Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats"). One of the cats, known as Mr. Mistoffelees, befriends her. Demeter and Cassandra stop Victoria and ask for her name. When she gives it, they ask for her second name, which leads to Munkustrap explaining the importance of the three names of Jellicle cats ("The Naming of Cats"). Victoria is then given an invitation to the Jellicle Ball, which occurs only once a year, where many cats compete and the leader of the tribe, Old Deuteronomy, chooses one of the cats to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn into a new life ("Invitation to the Jellicle Ball").
The Jellicle cats then take Victoria to one of the candidates for the night's Ball, a cat named Jennyanydots, who sleeps during the day but reforms mice and cockroaches at night ("The Old Gumbie Cat"). The next cat to visit Victoria is Rum Tum Tugger, a capricious and rebellious tomcat who treats her and the other cats to milk and cream at a milk bar ("The Rum Tum Tugger"). A dirty and life worn cat named Grizabella then appears, only to be turned away. Demeter and Cassandra explain to Victoria that Grizabella was one of their tribe until she went off with Macavity ("Grizabella: The Glamour Cat"). A new cat, Bustopher Jones, arrives and upon noting how underfed Victoria is, proceeds to take her and the other Cats around to the garbage bins of various restaurants to eat ("Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town"). The merriment is cut short, however, by the arrival of Macavity, who had previously abducted Jennyanydots, and proceeds to kidnap Bustopher Jones next. Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones find themselves on a boat in the middle of the Thames, tied up and kept watch by Macavity's henchman, Growltiger ("Growltiger's Last Stand"). Meanwhile, the Jellicles hide due to Macavity's presence, with the exception of Victoria, who is left behind.
Victoria is found by Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, who proceed to show her how fun a wild, carefree life can be ("Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer"). Unbeknownst to Victoria, the two mischievous cats are also agents of Macavity. The merriment and wanton destruction are cut short when the dog of the house starts coming after the trio. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer escape through the window, but leave behind Victoria, who is caught on the bedpost and cannot escape. Mr. Mistoffelees, who has been looking for Victoria, helps her get free and distracts the dog long enough to close the door and escape, bringing her to the others at an abandoned theatre. They are just in time for the arrival of the Jellicle leader, an old cat named Old Deuteronomy ("Old Deuteronomy"). The Jellicle Ball commences ("The Jellicle Ball"), with Mr. Mistoffelees as Victoria's dance partner. While the cats are taking a rest, Grizabella reappears but stays at a distance ("Memory"). Her presence is noticed by Victoria ("Beautiful Ghosts") and Old Deuteronomy ("The Moments of Happiness"). Back inside, Victoria tells Old Deuteronomy her story. The elder cat tells Victoria that she is not a Jellicle Cat yet, but that she is on her way to becoming one.
The first contestant called up is an old theatre cat named Gus ("Gus: The Theatre Cat"). Mr. Mistoffelees is a big fan of this cat and helps out his act with his magic powers. Macavity returns and lures Gus into signing an autograph before kidnapping him as well. Next up, Skimbleshanks leads the cats in an elaborate tap routine ("Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat"), but is abducted at the end of his act. Bombalurina, another of Macavity's agents, appears on stage and doses everyone with catnip ("Macavity: The Mystery Cat"). Soon after, Macavity himself arrives and tries to coerce Old Deuteronomy into choosing him for rebirth, which she refuses to do. Infuriated, he kidnaps her, then threatens her life. When she still refuses, Macavity starts to make her walk the plank. Victoria suggests that a less-than-confident Mr. Mistoffelees rescue the leader by conjuration ("Mr. Mistoffelees"). After a few tries, he soon gives up until Old Deuteronomy appears behind him, alive and well, much to the relief of Victoria and the Jellicle tribe.
Meanwhile, a finally fed up Macavity decides to go to the Heaviside Layer himself, leaving Growltiger to torture his prisoners over the whereabouts of the Jellicle matriarch. Eventually, Jennyanydots manages to free herself and the other three prisoners to successfully confront Growltiger and send him overboard before rejoining the rest of the tribe.
Back at The Egyptian, Grizabella returns and is about to leave when Victoria stops her and encourages the outcast to face the matriarch for reconciliation ("Beautiful Ghosts (Reprise)", "Memory"). Grizabella is soon not only re-accepted into the tribe, but she is also named the Jellicle Choice by Old Deuteronomy. The cats lead her to what looks to be an old chandelier, which Mr. Mistoffelees repairs and lights up. The chandelier rises into the air, revealing itself to be a hot air balloon ("The Journey to the Heaviside Layer") as Grizabella rises into the air while dawn breaks. Macavity climbs on to a long tether, thinking that he would go with her, but falls off onto a statue within moments. The Jellicle cats watch her from a lion statue outside as Old Deuteronomy addresses them all ("The Ad-Dressing of Cats"). They salute Grizabella before dispersing, leaving only Victoria and the leader, who declares her an Angelical cat, one of the types of Jellicle cats. Grizabella disappears into a cloud in the dawn, going off to the Heaviside Layer to be reincarnated.
The movie uses a lot of the arrangements and lyrics from the original London Production, including the original versions of "The Old Gumbie Cat", "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" and "Macavity the Mystery Cat".
A highlights soundtrack was released by Polydor Records on December 20, 2019.
- "Overture" – Orchestra
- "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats" – The Company
- "The Naming of Cats" – Munkustrap and Company
- "The Invitation to the Jellicle Ball" – Mistoffelees, Munkustrap and Company
- "The Old Gumbie Cat" – Jennyanydots, Munkustrap and Company
- "The Rum Tum Tugger" – Rum Tum Tugger and Company
- "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat" – Grizabella, Demeter, Cassandra and Company
- "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town" – Bustopher Jones and Company
- "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" – Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer and Victoria
- "Old Deuteronomy" – Munkustrap, Old Deuteronomy, Company
- "Growltiger's Last Stand" – Growltiger
- "The Song of the Jellicles" - Old Deuteronomy and Company
- "The Jellicle Ball" – Orchestra
- "Memory" – Grizabella
- "Beautiful Ghosts" - Victoria
- "The Moments of Happiness" – Old Deuteronomy and Company
- "Gus: The Theatre Cat" – Gus
- "Skimbleshanks: The Railway Cat" – Skimbleshanks, Munkustrap and Company
- "Macavity: The Mystery Cat" – Bombalurina, Macavity and Company
- "Mr. Mistoffelees" – Mr. Mistoffelees, Munkustrap, Victoria, Old Deuteronomy and Company
- "Memory" – Grizabella and Victoria
- "Beautiful Ghosts (Reprise)" - Victoria, Old Deuteronomy and Grizabella
- "The Journey to the Heaviside Layer" – The Company
- "The Ad-Dressing of Cats" – Old Deuteronomy and Company
Unlike the stage show where the Cats Chorus are usually all named characters, it appears that the film includes a large un-named chorus. There are also cameos of children's roles for the "Mouse Band" and "Mouse Sisters", most likely during the Gumbie Cat's number, where Jennyanydots "Teaches them music, crocheting and tatting".
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.
International Dubbing Casts
The movie has been released internationally dubbed into other languages.
|Character||German Dub||Japanese Dub||Other Dub|
|Bustopher Jones||Manuel Straube||Ryuji Akiyama|
|Cassandra||Runa Albéon (Dialogue)|
Sabrina Weckerlin (vocals)
|Grizabella||Patricia Meeden||Azumi Takakashi|
|Gus the Theatre Cat||Thomas Rauscher|
|Jennyanydots||Uschi Hugo (dialogue)|
Kalpna Joshi (vocals)
|Mr. Mistoffelees||Andreas Bongard|
|Munkustrap||Patrick Stanke||Ikusabro Yamasaki|
|Old Deuteronomy||Kerstin de Ahna|
|Rum Tum Tugger||Philipp Büttner|
|Skimbleshanks||Patrick Roche||Yusuke Onuki|
|Victoria||Julia Scheeser||Wakana Aoi|
First Trailer - July 2019
The first trailer starts with shots of silhouetted Cats on a cobbled street, as car headlights approach. We see Victoria.
The words "One Night" appear alongside audio of "Memory". Mistoffelees and Victoria run towards a gate, and are met by other Cats on the other side. Then, an interior shot shows Victoria's hand taken by a male cat.
The words "One Chance" are shown. The cobbled street is shown with the neon "Milk bar" in the distance. Old Deuteronomy speaks to Victoria, saying "I haven't seen you before". Victoria is then seen in front of Mistoffelees and various other Cats in the street. Deuteronomy turns and enters the building, followed by a swarm of Cats. Grizabella is seen in the street, singing "Memory" that we have been hearing, as Victoria follows the others through the doorway.
"For a new life" is shown. Victoria is seen ransacking the bedroom with Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, playing with jewellery, dancing around, and surrounded by falling feathers as from a burst pillow. Mistoffelees looks concerned, Victoria is seen looking at him, and warm golden light floods through a window as Grizabella peeks round the corner. Victoria dances solo in moonlight in a graveyard, then we see her having gone through the doorway to be met by Deuteronomy who says "It's about to begin". The music changes from "Memory" to the "Jellicle Ball", and we see Tugger dancing on the Milk Bar in neon light, surrounded by other cats.
The major stars are credited: James Corden, saying "Here we go" while clips of Bustopher dancing in the street outside the milk bar, in an alley, and diving into a trash can; Judi Dench, seen in golden light, and watching the ensemble dance; Jason Derulo, as Tugger popping through a cat flap or trap door to startle Victoria; Idris Elba, seen as Macavity in coat and hat, perched on a building watching; Jennifer Hudson, seen hiding behind furniture then happily riding a chandelier; Ian McKellen pulls back the curtains, then is seen onstage, turning away from the audience of Cats; Taylor Swift, seen lounging on a prop moon, spraying a bejewelled can of "catnip"; Rebel Wilson, as Jennyanydots, falls from a step and a concerned Munkustrap looks on. She continues to dance and beat-box, finally sitting down and resting her hand on a mouse trap that springs and causes her to yell. Finally we see "And introducing Francesca Hayward", we see Victoria spin wearing pearls in Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer's bedroom.
The music changes back to Memory, as Jennifer Hudson sings "Touch Me..." we see "From Academy Award winning Director Tom Hooper". Grizabella is singing inside, with the giant chandelier in the background, surrounded by Cats. Tugger does a knee slide in the kitchen with Victoria, Victoria and Tantomile are in the street, Mistoffelees throws a magic spell.
"Director of Les Miserables and The King's Speech" is seen onscreen. Skimbleshanks is seen tap dancing, Victoria dances alone, twin cats are seen dancing, Mungo (or Rumple) is seen leaping with underwear, Tugger and the twin cats are dancing in the street. Victoria is seen sitting at a dining table wearing pearls, then she is seen with Bustopher Jones spitting in her face. Bustopher is then catapulted into a large trash can by the other cats.
"And from Andy Blankenbuehler choreographer of Hamilton" is shown on screen. Tugger is seen dancing outside the Milk Bar, Mistoffelees is high above the ensemble dancing, Victoria is playing with Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer.
"Based on the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber T.S. Eliot stage Musical" is seen. Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer and Victoria dance in jewels and fabric, Munkustrap raises Victoria's chin, Bombalurina dances on a bar with Mungo and Rumple, with Misto and other cats watching, Macavity sneaks by in coat and hat, Misto and Victoria run down the neon-lit street. Grizabella is seen peeking around the corner, Tugger leaps into frame in the middle of a party in the milk bar, Bombalurina looks to camera, and dances in front of the prop moon, Victoria leaps in front of the ensemble of Cats, Jenny dances on a kitchen counter top, Tugger fills the frame in the milk bar, Misto and Victoria dance in the ball, and Misto throws flowers in the air above Victoria. Victoria asks Misto "and are you going to try for a different life?" meeting him in the street, with Munkustrap behind her.
Grizabella is seen singing "Look, a new day..." to Deuteronomy, Victoria is seen listening, and the featured Cats are seen on a lion at Trafalgar Square at dawn. The ensemble of Cats bows to the sun, and the golden version of the logo "CATS" is followed by "this Holiday Season You Will Believe". "Directed by Tom Hooper".
Second Trailer - November 2019
The second trailer was released on November 19th, and showed some subtle changes to the animation from the earlier version. As expected, the second trailer re-uses material from the first, but also expands on the plot and shows more character depth.
The second trailer begins with an image of the full moon rising over Piccadilly Circus, and a foggy street lit by neon, silhouettes of Cats moving through the fog. The "Black and White Milk Bar" is clearly seen, as is "Meow Club" (possibly "Meow Meow Club"). The street bears strong resemblance to the area where Soho meets Piccadilly.
Bombalurina is seen dancing on a bar, while we hear Deuteronomy say "Tonight is a magical night". Victoria is seen listening, then playing with Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, one of whom slides down the bannister of a grand house. Bustopher Jones is seen as a massive cat flap opens.
Deuteronomy continues "Where I choose the cat that deserves a new life". The ensemble is seen pouring through the open doorway, while Macavity watches from above, wearing coat and hat. Victoria and another cat are silhouetted by the moon. The ensemble are seen looking up at Deuteronomy, who turns from them, and Victoria is seen following them through the open doorway.
Bombalurina sprays a can of glitter catnip from a suspended prop moon, while we hear Macavity tell Victoria "Going to the ball could get dangerous". We see "Wanted" posters featuring Macavity, which Victoria is looking at, then she is startled by Macavity appearing behind her. He laughs.
The "Jellicle Ball" music starts, with the words "This Christmas". Mistoffelees yells "Come on!" through the bars of a gate, Mungojerrie (or Rumpleteazer?) leaps around with underwear, Bombalurina is seen performing in front of the prop moon.
The words "Many will compete" are shown. Jennyanydots is seen dancing on a kitchen counter, Grizabella peeks from behind furniture, Mistoffelees twirls his top hat.
"Only one can win" is on screen. Tugger leaps in front of Jennyanydots yelling "Let's Dance!", Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer and Victoria are seen descending an enormous staircase, and Old Deuteronomy is seen while her voice is heard saying "I judge a cat by its soul", and cats are seen dancing in an alley full of trash, including a broken truck front with registration plates "EVE 6IS", and a neon sign reading "Wake up and dream!"
Macavity is heard saying "I got plenty of soul", and we see Cats dancing before we see Macavity, without hat and coat, addressing his words to Old Deuteronomy. We see a cat (Macavity?) leap in a gravity-defying jump onto the bonnet of the broken down truck.
A cat (Skimbleshanks or Mistoffelees?) says "Spotlight! And a drumroll please". We see Bombalurina dancing with other cats, followed by Skimbleshanks tap dancing. He is interrupted by Tugger yelling "Milk!" in the street outside the Milk Bar.
"You're Invited" is seen onscreen, followed by Munkustrap lifting Victoria's chin. Tugger and Jennyanydots jostle, Tugger dances on the Milk Bar counter. All the Cats bow to the rising sun in Trafalgar Square. Bustopher is seen chewing a large bone, surrounded by other Cats.
"To the musical event" is seen as we hear Munkustrap tell Victoria "The most deserving Cat will be reborn into another life". We see Mungojerrie, Rumpleteazer and Victoria, Munkustrap speaking to Victoria, and then Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer leaping onto the bed, dressing Victoria in pearls.
"Of the year" is seen onscreen, as Munkustrap continues "So they can be who they've always dreamed of being". Mistoffelees is at the window to Mungo and Rumple's bedroom, draped in white fabric. He jumps in through the window, but catches his feet in a giant pair of shoes, and ends up tripping and yelling.
Victoria is challenged at the bars of the gate by Cassandra and Demeter, Cassandra asks her "What's your name?", Demeter says "Cat got your tongue?"
The major stars are credited: James Corden, is heard saying "Here we go!" as he dives into a trash can; Judi Dench is seen inside, then walking in the street while the ensemble Cats bow to her; Jason Derulo fills the frame in the chaotic neon-lit Milk bar; Idris Elba laughs, as he is perched on an Egyptian cat statue, he throws his hat and disappears into dust; Jennifer Hudson peeks around the corner; Ian McKellen is seen having pulled back the curtain; Taylor Swift is seen dancing on a bar; Rebel Wilson says "Don't mess with the crazy cat lady" as she is seen in a pink waistcoat, wildly swinging a chain around which hits her in the face; "And introducing Francesca Hayward" is seen onscreen followed by a shot of Victoria decked out in pearls, earrings and a large (or tiny - the same size as a pearl) watch. We see Jennyanydots dancing on the kitchen counter.
Macavity is heard saying "Now is the time to make the choice", as he addresses Victoria in the street. The cats dance in the rubbish-strewn alley, Victoria, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer jump on the bed, a cat leaps in the Ball, Bombalurina dances, and we see Bustopher Jones in the alley behind "Drones". He stands on a plank, waiting to be catapulted into a large trash can, as another cat (Maitre'd?) jumps onto the other end. It doesn't move, and Bustopher says "right well that's not going to work, is it? *hiss*, that's what I say to you, *hiss*!" Bustopher washes a paw, and Mistoffelees, very concerned, says "cross paws" while doing so.
Victoria is seen walking through the doorway to be greeted by Deuteronomy, who tells her "We're about to begin", and Victoria is seen dancing in front of the other Cats. Macavity, in hat and coat, says "I Love it".
The golden logo appears in front of a starry sky, with the silhouettes of Tower Bridge and Big Ben picked out in stars. "In cinemas December 20" and "Directed by Tom Hooper" is shown along with credits for Working Title, Amblin Entertainment, Universal Pictures copyright, Universal Logo, and informing us that "Soundtrack on Polydor Records".
- Movie edition of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (print and audiobook), published by Faber and Faber on November 7, 2019.
- CATS x kate spade new york
- Piano/Vocal Selections from the Motion Picture Soundtrack, published by Hal Leonard.
- 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 was integral to the score, was changed gender to Mama. This change was part of a massive overhaul of Starlight Express which sparked controversy among many fans.
- Many characters, both principal and ensemble, had their designs, personalities, and roles changed to varying degrees.
- In 1991, Steven Spielberg had a concept of adapting Cats as an Animated Film. However, his animation studio became defunct so instead a direct-to-video film of the stage show was released in 1998. As Spielberg is credited as a producer in this movie, it could very well be the realization of some of Spielberg's original ideas.
- After the first trailer came out, internet memes were made about the movie, such as comparing the character designs to the Sonic the Hedgehog film (which had also been criticised for its character design).
- The movie makes several references to T S Eliot and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats:
- During "Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats", Macavity jumps on a billboard that says "Moriarty" and it immediately flickers and changes to say "Macavity" instead. This is a reference to Eliot basing Macavity on Moriarty.
- Grizabella ascends to the Heaviside Layer in a hot air balloon. Eliot had initially proposed ending the book with all the cats rising to the Heaviside Layer in a hot air balloon.
- Old Deuteronomy refers to Jellicle Cats as "dear little cats" at the end of the movie, a reference to the origins of the term "Jellicle Cats".
- ↑ CATS The Movie Announced For 2019
Andrewlloydwebber.com News, 31/08/2018
- ↑ Andy Blankenbuehler will Choreograph Cats Film
Broadwayworld, 24th November 2018
- ↑ Cats musical may be next for film treatment, says Andrew Lloyd Webber
The Guardian, 3rd December 2013
- ↑ Tom Hooper to Direct ‘Cats’ Movie for Universal
Variety.com, 5th May 2016
- ↑ Andrew Lloyd Webber Pens New Song for Possible Cats Film
Playbill.com, 5th January 2018
- ↑ 
- ↑ So fun to visit
#CatsMovie set today. Absolutely incredible set and choreography. Like being in the land of giants. Photos strictly prohibited . You’ll just have to wait for the trailer.
@Tricycletalent, Twitter, 20th March 2019
- ↑ Everything We Know About the 'Cats' Movie
thrillist.com, 15th March 2019
- ↑ "One night. One chance. Watch the #CatsMovie trailer now."
@universaluk on Twitter, 18th July 2019
- ↑ Cats movie trailer: internet reacts in horror to 'demented dream ballet'
The Guardian, 19th July 2019
- ↑ FELINE CREEPY Cats movie trailer terrifies viewers with ‘creepy’ effects as Taylor Swift, James Corden and Judi Dench star in film remake
The Sun, 19th July 2019