Unless you’ve spent your entire existence up until this point, you must have heard of the musical ‘Cats.’ It’s one of the finest creations of the legendary composer and musical director Andrew Lloyd Webber – the same man responsible for giving the world’ Phantom of the Opera.’ For many years, ‘Cats’ was the longest-running musical in the history of both Broadway and London’s West End. Even now, it’s still in the top five longest-running productions at both venues.

What you may not have heard about the musical, though, is that later this year it’s going to be brought to the big screen in a feature film, and that pop sensation Taylor Swift is going to be appearing in a leading role. Although it’s flown under the radar during a year at the movies which has been dominated by the ending of the current generation of the ‘Avengers’ and ‘X-Men’ film series, and the much-anticipated new live-action Disney classics, ‘Cats’ the movie is very much a reality.

Already In The Can

Rumors about a movie being based on ‘Cats’ have come and gone for almost thirty years, with the first musings about turning the stage play into an animated film kicked about during the early 1990s. Universal Pictures opted to hold on to the rights to make the film, but appeared to be doing nothing with those rights until Andrew Lloyd Webber made an off-hand comment that something may be happening behind the scenes towards the end of 2013. After that, all went quiet again for three years, at which point Tom Hooper was confirmed to have signed onto the project as director. The plan for the film had already changed considerably by this point; it was no longer to be a purely animated feature, it was going to be a fully-fledged live- action film blending animation and ‘real’ performances.

Taylor Swift was confirmed to have a major role in the movie during the summer of 2018, joined by musical veteran Jennifer Hudson, talk show host James Corden, and theatrical greats Ian McKellan and Dame Judi Dench. By the end of the summer, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, and Jason Derulo had also signed on the dotted line to add to what looks like a varied and eclectic cast. Shooting on the movie officially began during December 2018, and was all done by the start of April 2019. Although there’s been virtually no hype so far, the movie is close to being complete. It’s currently slated for a Christmas 2019 release.

What Can We Expect From It?

The casting for the production has been surprising, given the subject material. Although there are various comic performers in the production, ‘Cats’ has never
been considered to be a comedy piece. The narrative – such as it exists – revolve around a group of cats meeting up late one evening and attempting to decide which one of their number is worthy of entry to feline heaven. The topic is treated with reverence and severity, and there are no spoken words in the stage production.

Every line of the musical is sung. That calls into question what the role of some of the cast – such as James Corden and Ian McKellan – is expected to be. Neither of them are noted singers, even though many of the supporting cast is. Because of the inclusion of Taylor Swift, who has a young fanbase, it’s expected that some amendments will have been made to the original script to make it more amusing, and provide more of a story that children can enjoy with parents. If that is the case, however, Universal can probably expect complaints from fans of the original musical, who would likely disapprove of major changes to the production.

So Will It Work?

‘Cats’ is an interesting entity. Despite its enormous success, which has been sustained over many years, it’s an oddity of a stage show which is almost singularly unique in that it doesn’t have much in the way of a tale to be told. The characters get together to sing a song each, and then the show ends without anything significant happening. Making the idea entertaining as a musical theater show is challenging; trying to achieve the same thing with a movie would be even harder. Great stage shows don’t always translate into great movies, as anyone who was associated with the ‘Rock of Ages’ movie can attest to.

One thing that might work in its favor is that the whole world seems to love cats. We can hardly move on social media for cat memes, and cats have found their way into almost every other form of entertainment as a sales aid. It’s not by coincidence that cats have been chosen to help market new Mercedes-Benz cars. Cats are even used at the casino to attract players to slot games; the Egyptian-themed’ Caravan to Cairo’ slot places cats in lead roles, and the ‘Fluffy Favorites’ mobile game on slots websites such as Amigo Slots is also a testament to the fact that people will put their money anywhere they see something cute and furry. If online slots players can be seduced by the lure of all things feline, it’s a fair bet to say that movie studios can hit their own jackpot using cats as bait, too.

Given the time of year that the film is coming out, coupled with an all-star cast and what we expect to be an extremely cute production, we expect that ‘Cats’ will, at the very least, break even at the box office. If the initial reviews are favorable, it may even be a surprise late-year hit for Universal. Whatever happens, it promises to be a movie unlike anything else we’ve seen this year – and it could prove to be the launching pad to a career in Hollywood for the seemingly-unstoppable Taylor Swift. As we get closer to the release date for the movie and more information becomes available, expect to see further news about the ‘Cats’ movie right here on this website. If we think it would be the ‘purrfect’ film for you to go and see during the holiday season, we’ll be sure to let you know!

By Jeff Stevens

Husband, father, movie+review advocate, BAMF, hair icon, pantsuits are for losers. Posts from Jeff signed -J all others by merciless robots.

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