Cats movie: Everything you need to know

Ian Sandwell
Photo credit: Frazer Harrison / Maury Phillips for BET / Kelly Sullivan / Thomas Lohnes / DigitalSpy.com - Getty Images

From Digital Spy

After tackling Les Misérables, Tom Hooper is now bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical Cats to the screen.

Based on TS Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the musical follows a tribe of cats called the Jellicles who, on a special night at the Jellicle Ball, tell their stories to the tribe's leader Old Deuteronomy who must decide which one of the cats will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be reborn.

Its original run saw it open in London's West End in 1981 and in Broadway in 1982, going on to last a very impressive 21 years in London and 18 years on Broadway. It's also won a whole host of awards and is the sixth longest-running West End show and the fourth longest-running Broadway show.

After a made-for-TV movie in 1998 and stage revivals in 2014 (West End) and 2016 (Broadway), Cats is pouncing onto the big screen in 2019 and here's everything you need to know so far.

Cats movie cast: Who's in it?

Before we even get onto the cast, it's worth noting that ever since it was officially announced in May 2016, it hasn't been confirmed just what format the movie adaptation of Cats will take.

So we still don't know if the cast will just be wearing cat make-up like in the musical or whether it'll take a motion capture approach or if it'll be some kind of merging of live action with animation or something else entirely.

That being said, we do at least know who'll be starring in it as cast announcements have been coming thick and fast, indicating that filming could be starting soon.

The first bunch of names confirmed for the movie were Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Taylor Swift and Ian McKellen. So far, it's expected that Hudson will play former 'glamour cat' Grizabella and McKellen could be Gus the Theatre Cat, but nothing has been officially finalised.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Apparently, McKellen is preparing for the movie by finding his "inner pussy". "You might well ask, how do you prepare for being a cat? Well, at the moment, I'm looking for the inner pussy," he explained.

"[I'm looking for] the moggy-ness that is within us all. And, umm, not doing very well at it!"

That was followed in September 2018 by the announcement of new cast members Laurie Davidson and Mette Towley, with Towley expected to play the youngest kitten Jemima.

Further big-name casting arrived in October 2018 as Idris Elba joined and was revealed to potentially be playing the villainous Macavity, who kidnaps Old Deuteronomy and later tries to do the same with Demeter.

Talking of Old Deuteronomy, Judi Dench was announced to be coming on board as the Jellicles' leader which, if confirmed, would be a gender-swapped role as Old Deuteronomy is generally played by a man on-stage. Dench was set to play Grizabella in the original West End production of Cats in 1981, but had to withdraw from the show after snapping her Achilles Tendon.

The adaptation will also feature a pivotal new character, a white kitten called Victoria, to be played by Francesca Hayward, the Principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, while fellow Principal dancer Steven McRae will play Skimbleshanks.

Other big name castings followed Hayward as Pitch Perfect's Rebel Wilson signed on as old Gumbie cat Jennyanydots, while Jason Derulo will make his feature acting debut as Rum Tum Tugger.

Given that we don't yet know the format that the movie will take, it's unclear whether Tom Hooper will have his cast sing live during filming, like he did on Les Misérables. Production is set to start in December 2018, so we could find out soon.

Cats movie release date: When's it coming out?

Universal and Working Title has confirmed that Cats will be released in UK and US cinemas on December 20, 2019.

While filming hasn't yet started, they must be confident that the movie can hit that release date as they moved their other musical adaptation of Wicked from the slot, with that movie being delayed and moved to a different release.

That means it'll go head-to-head with Star Wars: Episode 9, but the festive period proved a success for both Les Misérables and The Greatest Showman, so even if Star Wars dominates that weekend, expect Cats to have a long tail (sorry) at the box office.

It would have been up against Death on the Nile too, before the Agatha Christie adaptation moved back to 2020.

Cats movie soundtrack: What songs can we expect?

We'll likely have to wait until a trailer to discover the new adaptation's take on classic songs like 'Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats', 'Memory', 'The Rum Tum Tugger' and 'Mr Mistoffelees'.

However, any Cats fans fearing that the adaptation will take out songs from the original production might want to look at Hooper's take on Les Misérables. This adaptation kept the sing-through nature of the stage musical, with minimal dialogue and kept the majority of the songs.

Only 'I Saw Him Once' and 'Dog Eats Dog' were completely cut and even if other songs were shortened, they were at least in the movie.

Cats is set for release on December 20, 2019.

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