It’s officially official: Tom Hooper’s Cats movie is real, folks. The Oscar-winning The King’s Speech director has been taking his time in finding his follow-up project to The Danish Girl, which hit theaters back in 2015, but he eventually settled on a big-budget film adaptation of the iconic Broadway musical Cats—and he’s assembled an A-list cast to bring it to life.
The film is an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical and the poems from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, as it tells the story of a group of cats called the Jellicles and the night they decide which cat will ascend to the “Heaviside Layer” and come back to a new life. Hooper co-wrote the script for the film alongside War Horse and Billy Elliot co-writer Lee Hall.
The Cats movie cast consists of the following:
James Corden as Bustopher Jones
Dame Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy
Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger
Idris Elba as Macavity
Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella
Sir Ian McKellen as Gus
Taylor Swift as Bombalurina
Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots
Francesca Hayward as Victoria
Hooper—who also directed a big-budget, star-studded film adaptation of Les Miserables a few years back to mixed results—will be using “astonishing new technology to transform his cast members into a breathtaking, vivid new vision of one of the most beloved musicals of all time.” It’s unclear if that means simply using digital technology on top of practical makeup, or if Hooper is going the Mowgli route and using performance-capture to bring these creatures to uncanny life. Surely we’ll find out soon enough.
Dance will be a major part of the film, and in addition to the principal cast, the film features dance performers like Larry and Laurent Bourgeiois (aka Les Twins), Robbie Fairchild, Mëtte Towley, Steven McRae, and more—all under the guidance of three-time Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton).
Behind-the-scenes, I’m personally excited to see Hooper working with a different cinematographer this time around, Room and Terminal DP Christopher Ross. His team also includes production designer Eve Stewart (The Danish Girl), costume designer Paco Delgado (A Wrinkle in Time), sound mixer Simon Hayes (Les Miserables), executive music producer Marius De Vries (Moulin Rouge), and casting director Lucy Bevan (Ready Player One).
The Working Title and Universal Pictures film is produced by Hooper, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Debra Hayward, with Steven Spielberg, Llloyd Webber, Angela Morrison, and Jo Burn executive producing.
Cats will open in theaters on December 20, 2019.