If you’ve seen Cats, listened to any of its musical numbers, or even just had your more theater-savvy friends labor to explain the premise to you, you know for certain that it’s one weird-as-hell piece of performance art. But even with this in mind were we rattled by a few of the tidbits to come out of Universal Pictures’ presentation of the film at CinemaCon ’19.
The studio used the Las Vegas-based convention as a platform to treat journalists to their first glimpse of the forthcoming production, which director Tom Hooper will deliver to the inevitably-mouths-agape viewing public in December of 2019. From discussions of the project and some behind-the-scenes documentary footage, reporters gleaned a few surprising details that they then took it upon themselves to share with the world, surprising the rest of us all the same. Here are a few of the bullet points that struck us as exceptionally brow-raising.
The characters in the Cats movie will be done via mo-cap not makeup ? I’m going to rename it Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Avatar
— Jim Vejvoda (@JimVejvoda) April 3, 2019
In a vacuum, this may not sound terribly peculiar. But if there’s one thing superlatively associated with Cats, it’s the wacked-out look of its actors in makeup. Also the names, I guess. Alas, we won’t be seeing stars Idris Elba and Taylor Swift and Judi Dench and Jennifer Hudson draped in three coats of felinius gunk, but instead their likenesses (or lack thereof, more likely) transposed to the digital realm in a substantially more catlike form. And furthermore on the subject…
Behind the scenes footage of CATS reveals all the sets are gigantic, filled with oversized furniture and doorways and whatnot. This sounds like I’m doing a bit but I swear to you I am not
— Scott Wampler™ @ CinemaCon (@ScottWamplerBMD) April 3, 2019
So not only will they look like cats, they’ll be the size of actual cats, which is something you couldn’t say about most of the actors who’ve delivered the ballads of Andrew Lloyd Weber on the Broadway stage. And since we haven’t perfected the technology that’d allow us to shrink Idris Elba to a fraction of his natural size (yet), Cats is enlisting gigantic sets to alter perspective.
And finally, a note about the message of Cats. Yes, there’ll be a message!
CATS, along with its digital fur technology, will also include a timely message about inclusion, community, and forgiveness. Help me.
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) April 3, 2019
How, precisely, such matters will come into play organically in the forthcoming filmed version of the musical adaptation T.S. Eliot’s nonsense verse is a greater mystery than Macavity. But keep your whiskers alert for more Cats news! In the meantime, enjoy Jennifer Hudson belting “Memory.”
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) April 3, 2019
Image: Cats the Musical