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 1930s 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 criminal mastermind 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 drugs 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 her 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
- "The Old Gumbie Cat" – Jennyanydots, Munkustrap and Company
- "The Rum Tum Tugger" – Rum Tum Tugger and Company
- "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat" – Grizabella, Cassandra and Demeter
- "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 June/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|
|Growltiger||Martin Umbach||Kazuhiro Yamaji|
|Gus the Theatre Cat||Thomas Rauscher||Akira Takarada|
|Jennyanydots||Uschi Hugo (dialogue)
Kalpna Joshi (vocals)
|Macavity||Tommy Amper||Kōichi Yamadera|
|Mr. Mistoffelees||Andreas Bongard||Win Morisaki|
|Munkustrap||Patrick Stanke||Ikusaburo Yamazaki|
|Old Deuteronomy||Kerstin de Ahna
|Rumpleteazer||Carin Filipčić||Miyuki Sawashiro|
|Rum Tum Tugger||Philipp Büttner||Satoshi Fujihara|
|Skimbleshanks||Patrick Roche||Yusuke Onuki|
|Victoria||Julia Scheeser||Wakana Aoi|
First Trailer - July 2019
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.
- 9 Lives: The Cast of Cats
- Singing Live
- Making Macavity
- A Director's Journey
- Making Music
- The Art of Dance
- Scaling Up
- A Little Magic
- The Dancers
- Cat School
- Feature Commentary with Director Tom Hooper
- The Art of Dance
- A 1-hour television documentary special Cats and the Movie Musical premiered on Sky Cinema on December 16, 2019.
- 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. It was to be released by Universal Pictures, with a new song written for the film. However, Spielberg's animation studio went defunct and 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 for a movie/play called "Moriarty!" and it immediately flickers and changes into a Macavity "wanted for everything" sign. This is a reference to Eliot basing Macavity on the Sherlock Holmes character 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.
- At the end of the movie, Old Deuteronomy tells Victoria: "You truly are a Jellicle Cat - a dear little cat." This is a reference to the origins of the term "Jellicle Cats".
- The plate number of the milk truck is "TSE 10"
- The names of several establishments are nods to lines from the poems/lyrics from the musical: "Black & White Milk Bar" from "The Song of the Jellicles"; "The Rising Sun" from "Grizabella: The Glamour Cat" (also an actual London pub in the 1930s); "Russell Hotel" from "The Journey to the Heaviside Layer" (also an actual London hotel in the 1930s); "The Drones Restaurant" from "Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town" (also a reference to the fictional Drones Club).
- Just as he did with the 2012 film adaptation of Les Misérables, Tom Hooper cast several Cats alumni in the movie, namely: Judi Dench, Naoimh Morgan, Zizi Strallen, Corey John Snide, Kolton Krouse, Jon-Scott Clark, and Erica Jayne Alden.
- 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
- NEWS: WORKING TITLE HOLDS OPEN AUDITION FOR CATS MOVIE, londondance.com, 29 May 2018.
- "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
- "CATS Film Releases on Digital Today, March 17". BroadwayWorld, March 17, 2020.
- CATS Will Be Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital Download on April 7, BroadwayWorld
- Cats and the Movie Musical, IMDb.
- Cats Facts - September 1995, www.reallyuseful.com - via the Wayback Machine.