News broke yesterday that the long-rumored Cats movie is officially on for production. It was announced that the Tom Hooper(Les Misérables) film is slated to start filming in November. No casting has been announced yet. Wayne McGregor(Woman in White) will serve as choreographer.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised that Cats is coming to the big screen. First of all, it's not like anyone was clamoring for this to be made, so I'm not sure what the excitement this is going to drum up from fans. The recent Broadway revival failed to reignite the interest that the original production had done. It's not a good sign that a revival of the 4th longest-running show in Broadway history closed after just a year.
Secondly, the musical doesn't seem like a great fit for a screen adaptation. The show takes place generally in one location and doesn't really have a plot - two things that movies try to avoid. It would seem that for something like this to work, it would have to create a storyline, which is a roll of the dice.
It seems to be that the best film version one could want would be the "Great Performances" in 1998 starring Elaine Paige. It just doesn't feel as cinematically interesting as let's say a Sunset Boulevard film adaptation.
At the same time, there isn't exactly a high bar when it comes to Andrew Lloyd Webber film adaptations, to begin with. Evita and The Phantom of the Opera rank in the bottom half of movie musicals with Joseph & the Technicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar ranking just above average. So Cats might have the potential to be the best of the bunch.
For Hooper, it would seem like this project might serve as a bit of redemption since his film of Les Misérables was met with a lot of mixed reaction from critics and more importantly, fans.
But we'll see. Are you excited about a Cats movie?