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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]. The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures.

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.” The set includes practical props, however, as referenced in a studio visit. [6] 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. [7]

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.

Casting

CONFIRMED CAST
Character Performer
Admetus Eric Underwood [8]
Alonzo Bluey Robinson [9]
Bombalurina Taylor Swift
Bustopher Jones James Corden [10]
Coricopat Jaih Betote [11]
Demeter Daniela Norman [12]
Griddlebone Melissa Madden Gray [13]
Grizabella Jennifer Hudson [14]
Growltiger Ray Winstone
Gus, the Theatre Cat Ian McKellen [15]
Jellylorum Freya Rowley
Jemima Mette Towley [16]
Jennyanydots Rebel Wilson [17]
Macavity Idris Elba [18]
Mistoffelees Laurie Davidson
Mungojerrie Danny Collins
Munkustrap Robbie Fairchild [19]
Old Deuteronomy Judi Dench [20]
Plato Larry Bougeois [21]
Rumpelteazer Naoimh Morgan
Rum Tum Tugger Jason Derulo [22]
Syllabub Jonadette Carpio [23]
Skimbleshanks Steven McRae [24]
Socrates Laurent Bougeois [25]
Tantomile Zizi Strallen [26]
Victoria Francesca Hayward [27] [28]
Maitre D' Cory English
Mouse Band Jamal Ahmed
Mouse Band Joel Swedensky
Mouse Band Gregory Mann
Mouse Sister Meesha Garbett
Mouse Sister Harriet Turnbull]
Mouse Sister ...
Macavity Girl Hannah-Faith Marram
Macavity Girl Sophie Carmen-Jones[29]
Macavity Girl Chelsea Hogg
Jennyanydots Double Leanne Jones
Chorus Ponciano Almeida
Chorus Shay Barclay
Chorus Samuel Baxter
Chorus Nicole Bondzie
Chorus Chrissy Brooke
Chorus Tom Clark
Chorus Cogan de Abreu
Chorus ...
Chorus Yasmin Harrison
Chorus Kalene Jeans
Chorus Aaron Jenkins
Chorus Jaron Johnson
Chorus Lynn Jung
Chorus Kolton Krouse
Chorus Rufus Lacey
Chorus Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson
Chorus Benjamin Milan
Chorus Roxanne Milliner
Chorus Katie Morton-Hughes
Chorus Muti Musafiri
Chorus Redmond Rance
Chorus Zhane Samuels
Chorus ...
Chorus Kie Wilis
Chorus Po-Lin Tung
Chorus Clemmie Sveaas

Others involved with the film include: Jon-Scott Clark, Tommy Franzen[30], Odette Hughes, Georgia Lewis, Ida Saki, Corey John Snide, and Olivia Grace Cowley.

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.

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.
  • Characters are being changed; or maybe more accurately, ensemble character names are being assigned to different roles, such as Zizi Strallen's Tantomile: "So I’m allowed to officially tell people now that I’ve been filming the @catsmovie for the last 5 months. Playing Tantomile. She’s quite different from the show, not a twin but a little cheeky, flirty kitten. Can’t wait for everyone to see it this christmas."[26]
  • Melissa Madden Gray discussing Griddlebone: "My role is Griddlebone, who is quite a mysterious cat because she appears in different ways from the West End Version to the Broadway version and in this film she appears in a different way altogether..."[13]


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. @Tricycletalent, Twitter, 20th March 2019 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.
  7. Everything We Know About the 'Cats' Movie
    thrillist.com, 15th March 2019
  8. @ericunderwood Instagram 26th February 2019
  9. @blueyofficial Instagram 23th March 2019
  10. Universal/Working Title's feature adaption of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats rolls Cameras
    Deadline.com December 2018
  11. @jaih_betote Instagram 29th March 2019
  12. @dannie_norman Instagram 26th March 2019
  13. 13.0 13.1 BWW Interview: MEOW MEOW & Thomas Lauderdale of PINK MARTINI Speak About Their New Album and Upcoming Show at the Crest Theatre
    broadwayworld, 17th Mar 2019
  14. Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden, Ian McKellen Will Star in Film Version of Cats
    Playbill.com, 20th July 2018
  15. Ian McKellen promises King Lear is in no way a 'farewell tour'
    EW.com 25th September 2018
  16. ‘Cats’: Dancer Mette Towley Joins Cast Of Universal-Working Title Film
    Deadline.com 26th September 2018
  17. Rebel Wilson to play Jennyanydots in CATS
    BroadwayWorld 19th November
  18. Idris Elba in Talks to Join Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, More in Cats Movie
    Playbill.com 16th October 2018
  19. "Robbie Fairchild to Play Munkustrap in ‘Cats’ Movie Adaptation"
    Variety.com, 29th November 2018
  20. Judi Dench Signs on for Cats Film
    Playbill.com October 18th 2018
  21. @officiallestwins Instagram 29th March 2019
  22. Cats Movie finds its Rum Tum Tugger in Jason Derulo
    Playbll.com 20th November 2018
  23. @jonadette_ Instagram 29th March 2019
  24. Steven McRae, Principal dancer, Royal Ballet, has announced his involvement in the film project.
    Instagram Post, 8th November 2018
  25. @officiallestwins Instagram 29th March 2019
  26. 26.0 26.1 Twitter, 23rd March 2019
    So I’m allowed to officially tell people now that I’ve been filming the catsmovie for the last 5 months. Playing Tantomile. She’s quite different from the show, not a twin but a little cheeky, flirty kitten. Can’t wait for everyone to see it this christmas.
  27. @frankiegoestohayward Instagram 2nd November 2018
  28. Royal Ballet Principal Francesca Hayward Joins CATS Film as Victoria!
    Broadway World.com 1st November 2018
  29. Instagram Post, 28th March, Simon & How Associates
  30. Instagram post of full cast, 29th March 2019
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