The movie adaptation of Cats will be coming to a theater near you. Cat lovers of the world, rejoice! Universal finally dropped the trailer for the much-anticipated Cats movie on July 19, 2019, and it’s clear that a ton of labor and love went into the project. With a star-studded cast and top-of-the-line visual effects, the film is likely to be a family favorite, with parents and kids alike fighting the urge to sing along loudly in the theater.
The new movie — which, according to Variety, has been in the works since 2016 — is expected to bring in some major revenue at the box office, on par with the 2012 hit Les Misérables. You can wager Universal is betting on that, as they spent a whopping $287 million making Cats, according to an article in The Guardian. That would buy a lot of cat food!
So what can we glean from the Cats trailer? How will the film depict anthropomorphic cats who sing and dance? And just who’s starring in this big-budget Cats musical? Read on to learn everything there is to know about the Cats movie.
What is Cats' release date for theaters?
It’s well known that studios typically debut their films on strategic dates during the year depending on what kind of movies they are. For example, the beginning of the year and the latter part of the summer are traditionally known as “dump months,” when studios release their least ambitious films, which are often lackluster in presentation. Additionally, films released in the spring and summer are often big-budget blockbusters, such as movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Fast & Furious franchise. And, of course, films vying for an Oscar nomination are typically released toward the end of the year to make sure the Academy remembers them when it’s time to vote.
As far as Cats is concerned, its release date is Dec. 20, 2019, according to IMDb. Clearly Universal is hoping that Cats will be the main event at the box office during the holidays. It’s also possible that they’re hoping for an Oscar nod because of the timing.
This is Cats' cast
Move over, Trolls World Tour, as the Cats cast is filled with an impressive amount of A-list actors and extremely talented dancers, according to IMDb. Although she’s a little young for the part, Jennifer Hudson will be playing the highly coveted role of Grizabella, which — given the vocal demands of the part — is a wise casting choice. As for other elderly felines, Judi Dench and Ian McKellen will star as Old Deuteronomy and Gus the Theater Cat, respectively. When it comes to the feisty younger cats, Taylor Swift will purr as the sexy Bombalurina and Jason Derulo will slay as the alpha-tom Rum Tum Tugger.
Additionally, James Corden will have plenty of swagger as Bustopher Jones, while Rebel Wilson will play the tap-dancing tabby Jennyanydots. Our villain will be the sexy Idris Elba as Macavity, and Laurie Davidson will bring the magic to Mr. Mistoffelees. Finally, the incredibly gifted ballet dancer Francesca Hayward will dance her way into your heart as Victoria. What an insanely talented line-up!
The supporting cast of Cats is also pretty amazing
Just as the main cast of Cats is the stuff of dreams, so too is the supporting cast of singing and dancing felines. Daniela Norman will play Bombalurina’s right-hand cat Demeter, and Ray Winstone will walk the plank as the pirate cat Growltiger. Melissa Madden-Gray will cozy up with Growltiger as Griddlebone, while Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae will toot his horn as conductor cat Skimbleshanks. You have to love all of the clever names!
Additionally, ballet dancer Robert Fairchild will step into the role of emcee as Munkustrap, and Bluey Robinson will croon as Alonzo while picking a fight or two with Macavity. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer will be played by Danny Collins and Naoimh Morgan, respectively, and Larry and Laurent Bourgeois are Plato and Socrates, the latter of whom was created for the film. Zizi Strallen and Jaih Betote will tackle Tantomile and Coricopat, while Mette Towley plays Cassandra, and Jonadette Carpio will take on the role of Syllabub. Finally, Eric Underwood will play Admetus, Freya Underwood will take on Jellylorum, and Abigayle Honeywill will play the lowly Cockroach.
The Cats cast went to "cat school"
Taylor Swift, who’s certainly no stranger to performing, didn’t hold back while preparing for her biggest acting role yet. “I just fully committed and threw myself into the process and had the most fun,” she revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. She also did additional research as needed in order to bring her A-game to the set.
In particular, Swift and her fellow cats went to a special kind of class to help them embody the feline spirit. “We had this thing called ‘cat school’ that was a class where you could learn about how to create the motions of cats, how to think like they think, how to sense things the way that they do, carry yourself the way a cat would,” she continued. Honestly, that sounds kind of fun.
Rebel Wilson also talked about cat school in an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “It’s pretty interesting to be a cat all day,” she shared, adding, “We do have to go to cat school, though, which is where we all just pretend to be cats together.” What a hoot!
This is what was featured in the Cats trailer
The Cats trailer opens with a view of cobblestone streets at night, followed by silhouettes of cat-like bodies moving gracefully in front of headlights. We are then treated to the furry white visage of Francesca Hayward as Victoria against the dim but colorful streets of London, which vanishes and is replaced by the words “one night.” After that, there are several clips of Hayward interacting with other cats and the phrase “one chance.” Then we get a first glance at the feline played by Judi Dench, as well as text that reads, “For a new life.”
As the trailer proceeds, Hayward shows off her sublime dance moves, interspersed with bits of dialogue and first looks of other Cats cast members like Jason Derulo and Laurie Davidson. Then the official introductions start, beginning with James Corden and culminating with Hayward in her featured role. After that, director Tom Hooper and choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler are listed, as more and more scenes of cats dancing and singing play out. And throughout the entire thing, Jennifer Hudson’s incredible vocals shine as she belts out a stunning rendition of “Memory.” The Cats trailer ends with a group dance shot and then the Cats logo.
What is the plot of Cats?
If you aren’t already familiar with what happens in Cats, spoiler alert! We’re going to summarize the major plot points just ahead.
Truly an ensemble musical, the plot of Cats follows the exploits of musically inclined felines who are part of a group called Jellicles, as noted by Time magazine. At the start of the show, the Jellicles are all preparing for the Jellicle ball and the ritual that will follow it, wherein one lucky kitty will be selected to be reborn into their next life. But before they get there, each of the principal cats will have their chance to shine in one of many musical and dance numbers.
Once the second act rolls around, Macavity will commence with the mischief making, and the elder feline Old Deuteronomy will go missing. But before long, he will be found when the Jellicles band together to facilitate his rescue. And in the end, after all is said and done, it’s Grizabella who’s chosen to be reborn, after a life of being shunned by her tribe. Don’t forget to bring your tissues for those final scenes!
Cats is based on a Broadway classic
If you’re a Millennial or a member of Gen X, chances are you remember when Cats was the king of Broadway musicals. The show’s impressive first run started in 1982, and it lasted for nearly two decades until 2000, according to Time magazine. But if you’re a member of the Gen Z cohort, you may not remember the commercials on television or just how inescapable the song “Memory” was. Broadway’s Cats really was insanely popular.
And there would be no Cats without Broadway mastermind Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer also behind The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and more. Inspired by T.S. Eliot’s 1939 book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Webber composed the musical himself, which premiered in London’s West End in 1981. The result was Eliot’s more playful poetry in song form, performed by the characters the poet dreamed up so many years ago. Now the ever-cherished Cats musical will finally make its debut on the big screen, 80 years after Eliot put pen to paper.
The Internet had quite the reaction to the Cats trailer
Not everyone was excited by or impressed with the Cats trailer, despite its giant budget and star-studded cast. In fact, many people said that they were legitimately horrified by what they saw, especially because of the visual effects. “I don’t know what I expected from CATS‘ ‘digital fur technology’ but the short answer is NOT this,” film critic Kristy Puchko wrote in one tweet, accompanied by stills from the trailer. “My brain has melted. My eyes are bleeding. There is no god.” Ouch!
Puchko was joined by plenty of other terrified viewers, such as writer Louis Virtel. “I don’t know why you’re all freaking out over miniature yet huge cats with human celebrity faces and sexy breasts performing a demented dream ballet for kids,” he tweeted. Director Jordan Peele also joined in with the lambasting, retweeting the Cats trailer but with the music from his horror film Us. Clearly the Internet has some feelings about the Cats movie!
Cats' choreographer also worked on Hamilton
If you haven’t heard of the musical Hamilton and can’t sing along to every word on the soundtrack, what are you even doing with your life? The massively successful musical took home 11 Tony Awards in 2016, and has basically turned Broadway on its head. And while most of that is due to the genius of creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler can definitely share some of the cred (and a Tony for himself), thanks to his inspired and kinetic choreography.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, fans of the Cats crew are in luck, as Blankenbuehler also did the choreography for the upcoming feline spectacular. And judging by the Cats trailer alone, the moves are going to be pretty incredible, as the dance scenes we get a sneak peek at are rather jaw-dropping. Given that Blankenbuehler also did the choreography for the 2015 stage revival of Cats as well, there’s no better person for the job.
The Cats director is an Oscar winner
Like everyone else who’s starring in or is working on Cats, director Tom Hooper is the cream of the crop. The British director has a plethora of awards to his name, including the coveted Academy Award for best achievement in directing, according to IMDb. He brought that Oscar home for his work directing The King’s Speech, which also took home the award for best picture in 2011. That’s impressive in and of itself!
But Hooper isn’t a one-trick pony, as he also received major accolades for his visionary directing of the film adaptation of Les Misérables in 2012. That film received eight Academy Award nominations and won the Golden Globe Award for best picture in a musical or comedy. In addition to that, Hooper also received numerous Golden Globe Awards for his work in television, specifically for Elizabeth I, Longford, and John Adams. Given that he’s bringing his genius to the big screen once again for Cats, chances are the film is going to be epic.
Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a new song for the Cats film
There are quite a few memorable songs on the original Cats soundtrack other than “Memory,” such as “Mr. Mistoffelees,” “The Rum Tum Tugger,” “Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer,” and “Macavity: The Mystery Cat.” If you’re already familiar with the soundtrack, it’s hard not to sing the tunes from just hearing the names of the songs alone.
Fortunately for Cats groupies everywhere, there’s going to be new music in the upcoming film adaptation. And yes, it’s going to be created by the man himself, according to British columnist Baz Bamigboye. “Meow! @OfficialALW told me that he has composed a new song for #TomHooper’s hoped for film of musical #Cats to be sung by kitten Victoria,” he wrote in a 2018 tweet. That’s pretty exciting for musical buffs and die-hard Andrew Lloyd Webber fans.
Given that the role of Victoria is played by Francesca Hayward, the ballerina will have to prove that she has vocal chops in addition to her insane dance skills. We’re not worried!
You can't see Cats on Broadway anymore
By any standard of measurement, the original run of Cats on Broadway was a success, according to Time. Plus, in addition to the original production, there was a revival of Cats on Broadway in 2015 that lasted a good two years into 2017. Altogether, the show is thought to have brought a whopping $3 billion (yes, billion) of revenue to the Big Apple. It’s also one of the highest-grossing musicals in all of Broadway history.
But unfortunately for live theater aficionados everywhere, you can’t see Cats on Broadway at the time of this writing, at least not until the next revival, according to Broadway.com. But with the theatrical release on the horizon, Cats fans will eventually be able to revisit the show whenever they like in their living rooms, which arguably makes up for it. It’s unclear if there are any contractual restrictions in place in anticipation of the film version, so who knows if and when Cats will return to stage in the future.
For Taylor Swift, being in Cats is a dream come true
If you’re remotely familiar with Taylor Swift beyond the fact that she sings the viral hit “Shake It Off,” chances are that you know she’s a self-proclaimed cat lover. That’s in spite of how in demand and hot the singer is — our girl really is a feline fanatic. “I have cats. I’m obsessed with them. I love my cats so much that when a role came up in a movie called Cats, I just thought, like, I gotta do this,” she gushed in an interview with Time magazine. “Like, this is my calling in life to do this — for the ladies.” And for the cats, Taylor!
So what is it about the feline persuasion that Swift appreciates and enjoys? “They’re very dignified,” she continued. “They’re independent. They’re very capable of dealing with their own life.” That is, until it comes time to scoop the litter box, as it’s the humans who have to deal with that!
Idris Elba thinks Cats is going to be amazing
Taylor Swift isn’t the only member of the Cats cast who’s 100 percent all in for the film. Rather, Idris Elba also shares his enthusiasm for the project, and he isn’t shy about his feelings whatsoever. “It’s going to be spectacular,” he proclaimed in an interview with Vanity Fair. “It’s one of the most successful musicals in the world, and what I think Tom Hooper is doing to it is just magnifying what made it magical on the stage.”
Elba echoed that sentiment on a separate occasion, this time in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I think it’s going to be incredible to see,” he shared. “I don’t want to give too much away, but I think that the way that they’re visually making the cats into humans is going to be not seen before.” It certainly hasn’t, Idris!
Given Elba’s incredible acting abilities, chances are that he’ll shine as the dark and dangerous Macavity. We can’t wait!
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