Cats and the Re-Emerging Power of the Movie Musical

Oh! Well I never… Was there ever a better time for Cats to be hitting the big screen? With movie musicals making their much-deserved comeback, Cats is set to be this year’s biggest musical hit.

Photo Credit: Giphy/ Cats The Musical

As someone who spent a good chunk of their childhood, watching the VHS recording of Cats, on repeat, learning every word, every move, every mannerism, on the assumption that this was my future, I am buzzing for this musical to get the movie makeover treatment. Originally debuted on London’s West End in 1981, Cats has been one of the longest running stage musicals in history. Once you hear Andrew Lloyd Webber’s haunting soundtrack, you will understand why. As the Jellicle cats gather, in anticipation of who Old Deuteronomy will take to the Heaviside layer (I guess that’s cat Heaven), a myriad of quirky characters state their claim for why they deserve the honour.

Movie musicals certainly took a back seat for a large chunk of time. After the 1970s, the trend sort of died off, with Disney holding the monopoly on anything musical. Live-action interpretations were few-and-far between, and musicals gained a sort of “dorky” stigma. However, if musical fans are capable of anything, it’s enthusiasm, and in 2002, Chicago hit the screens, garnering public and critical acclaim. The film closely followed 2001’s captivating Moulin Rouge!, setting the wheels in motion for, what would soon become a comeback for the genre.

Chicago. Photo Credit: Giphy

Chicago was gritty, sexy, and brought a traditionally “cooler” tone to the genre, making way for directors to continue the trend. Updated interpretations of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Hairspray, were made, strengthening the genres position in Hollywood. It wasn’t until the 2010s that the genre began taking over. New interpretations popped up, like Pitch Perfect and La La Land, as well as remakes of stage classics like Into the Woods, Les Misérables, and Mamma Mia. In 2018 alone we got Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Mary Poppins Returns. Now, with the stage set for almost inevitable success, Cats is underway, starring a who’s-who of Hollywood. Already the cast includes Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellan, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Jennifer Hudson, and pop music’s Jason Derulo and Taylor Swift (whose recent Instagram post inspired this article).

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At the film’s helm stands Tom Hooper, the director behind the wildly successful Les Misérables (also a who’s-who of Hollywood). With release set for December 2019, we will all just have to hold onto our seats, and begin the countdown, with the hope that Taylor Swift and her Instagram keeps us updated in the meantime.

What else does Hollywood have in store for the coming years? Could we perhaps be treated to a Book of Mormon film, or Hamilton (which Lin Manuel-Miranda has stated is a while off), or possibly updated versions of classics such as West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, or Cabaret. Also, what happened to Wicked? The film was originally slated for a December 2019 release, but seems to have taken a back seat to Cats. Is it still happening? Who is directing? And more importantly, where do we sign up?

I suppose we will just have to wait and see, but for now I leave you with just one question:

Was it Mungojerrie, or was it Rumpleteazer?

Photo Credit: Giphy/ Cats The Musical

What’s your favourite movie musical? Let us know in the comments below.