When Tom Hooper announced he was going to make a film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Cats”, no one was quite sure how. It’s not as if Andrew Lloyd Webber’s show had not been recorded before, but this time things will be different. This time, they have an all-star cast and Hollywood money behind it, so this will either be a triumph for theatre fans, or a universally panned flop. Let’s discuss what we know about the movie so far, and what we learned from CinemaCon 2019.
We already know the cast is huge and features some big names. Idris Elba has been cast (oddly enough his second time playing a feline – the first in 2016’s “Jungle Book”), alongside Jennifer Hudson who will sing “Memory”. The movie also has Sir Ian McKellen, James Corden, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, and Dame Judi Dench cast so far in roles.
This is Hooper’s second musical movie, the first being “Les Miserables” back in 2012. The big question is what has he learned since then. According to io9, during Universal Picture’s panel at CinemaCon, attendees were priviledged enough to get a first look at things via a new sizzle reel:
In the reel, which was largely shot on set, Hooper revealed he wanted to bring the musical to life in a very 2019 way. To do that he’s using performance capture to make his actors look like they have real fur on them.
And so what the audience saw at the presentation were clips of actors in those fancy suits, complete with dots and everything. Some had cameras attached to their heads, others did not. It’ll eventually look something like Avatar’s Na’vi, but with fur, and the actors said they studied cat movements for the film.
Also, much of those soon-to-be digitally enhanced performances were shot on sets that are three to four times their usual size, to give the actors “a cat’s eye view.” In other words, they’re going to be the size of cats as they sing. Huge chairs and tables with the actors running and dancing under them.
No images of the cats have leaked yet, but it sounds like a very unique vision for this movie.
It was also noted that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music will be used in the movie, and “all disciplines of dance will be represented”. Much of the cast who is not a big name A-lister is filled out by professional ballet dancers and other theatre regulars.
“Cats” is expected to meow into theaters on December 20, 2019.