This New ‘Cats’ Trailer Must Be Seen to Be Believed

     November 19, 2019

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Universal Pictures has released a brand new Cats trailer for Oscar-winning The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper’s ambitious adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical. The film boasts a star-studded ensemble led by Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, and Taylor Swift, but instead of using makeup to make the actors look like cats, Hooper and his team have utilized cutting-edge performance-capture technology to transform the cast into entirely CG felines.

Hooper is no stranger to musicals having previously directed the Hugh Jackman/Russell Crowe Les Miserables, and he co-wrote the Cats screenplay with Lee Hall (Billy Elliot). The film boasts extravagant production design while showcasing dance styles that range from ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street to tap.

And that’s exactly what we see: cats performing complicated feats of dancing and tapping and scratching. The CGI here is certainly, uh, something, and when paired with Hooper’s handheld camera (which I suppose is meant to give it a grounded/visceral feeling) it’s quite jarring. There are attempts at humor that don’t quite work here, and while it leads me to believe this film just isn’t for me, I’m left wondering who is this film for? The Broadway musical is a long-running hit, sure, but we’ve seen time and again that Broadway success doesn’t always translate to feature film success. Who’s itching to see Robert Zemeckis-esque mo-cap performers dancing around like cats, singing songs? I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

The film also stars Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Rebel Wilson, and introduces Francesca Hayward. Cats prowls into theaters on December 20th.

Here’s the official synopsis for Cats:

Oscar®-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) transforms Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-shattering stage musical into a breakthrough cinematic event.

 

Cats stars James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and introduces Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in her feature film debut.

 

Featuring Lloyd Webber’s iconic music and a world-class cast of dancers under the guidance of Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In the Heights), the film reimagines the musical for a new generation with spectacular production design, state-of-the-art technology, and dance styles ranging from ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street to tap.

 

Universal Pictures presents a Working Title Films and Amblin Entertainment production, in association with Monumental Pictures and The Really Useful Group. Cats is produced by Debra Hayward, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Tom Hooper. The screenplay is by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, Rocketman) and Hooper, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot and the stage musical by Lloyd Webber. Cats is executive produced by Lloyd Webber, Steven Spielberg, Angela Morrison and Jo Burn.

 

One of the longest-running shows in West End and Broadway history, the stage musical “Cats” received its world premiere at the New London Theatre in 1981, where it played for 21 years and earned the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical. In 1983, the Broadway production became the recipient of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and ran for an extraordinary 18 years. Since opening in London in 1981, “Cats” has continuously appeared on stage around the globe, to date having played to 81 million people in more than fifty countries and in nineteen languages. It is regarded as one of the most successful musicals of all time.

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