WATCH AT HOME!
Film Bitch History
Oscar History
Welcome

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

 

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!

SAG SCREENING REACTIONS - Bombshell, Little Women

Comment Fun

REVIEW - Last Christmas

"Just saw a 7:00pm Thursday night show in Los Angeles. As flawed/imperfect as the film is, its quite winning due in a large part to some heavy lifting by Emilia Clarke. She’s got a real Sandra Bullock/Julia Roberts star power on full display here.-HardyofHearing

Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 461 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

Interviews

recent

Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe
« Months of Meryl: The Manchurian Candidate (2004) | Main | Harlots (S2:E1-2) New Law, Old Profession »
Wednesday
Jul252018

Still shook about "Cats" becoming a movie

by Nathaniel R

Betty Buckley in her Tony-winning role as "Grizabella, the glamour cat"By now you've heard the comic news (oh no wait, they're serious!) that "Cats" is being turned into a movie. The news took me so off guard that I was silent for five days. Cats got my tongue. (I'm sorry). The Andrew Lloyd Webber megahit from the 1980s was based on T.S. Elliott poems and as such it has no real story to speak of. It's basically a very successful song cycle (albeit with only one famous song "Memory") elevated by utter nonrealism in the form of humans pretending to be cats in campy makeup, tights, and acrobatic dancing. It's so hard to imagine as a movie that they made the potential of the making of one into a running joke in the play turned movie Six Degrees of Separation (1993). 

Grizabella the glamour cat is the marquee role but, in fact, it's a "featured" role since it's truly an ensemble show...

She was played by theatrical legends like Betty Buckley, Elaine Page, and Judi Dench in the 1980s but new producers have moved away from theatrical divas and toward reality competition singers with big pipes...

Both recent revivals in the UK and US went with reality show competition singers (Leona Lewis and Nicole Scherzinger) as Grizabella and they're repeating that move for the movie version via Jennifer Hudson. This will be JHud's second opportunity to take the key role in a big stage hit and immortalize its most famous song in movie form. You may remember what happened last time she did that... though it's hard to imagine Cats as a movie being taken seriously enough to win Oscars.

Judi Dench as Grizabella

This probably sounds like I do not like Cats which is not really true. I have nostalgic affection for it. I had the record and t-shirt as a kid and it was the first show I ever saw on Broadway as a typical tourist long before I moved here. But it would take real creative chutzpah and genius imagination to adapt it sufficiently to cinema to make it work at all

The musical will also star Taylor Swift (role unknown), James Corden (role unknown), and Sir Ian McKellen as "Old Deuteronomy" and more stars yet to be announced. If they're already casting we assume they're filming in late 2018 or early 2019 so perhaps the movie comes out in 2020. 

 

 

 

Tom Hooper (Les Miz, The King's Speech) will direct because for some reason Hollywood only lets three men direct movie musicals: Tom Hooper, Rob Marshall, and Bill Condon even though none of them have proven to be consistently good at it. We're still a long way from finding a modern movie director as talented with the form as Vincente Minnelli, Bob Fosse, Stanley Donen, or Busby Berkeley, ... and it's like Hollywood isn't even trying to find him or her. 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (43)

This looks hilariously awful.

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMatt L.

I like any news/article that brings up Six Degrees of Separation

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

And Hooper continues to prove that Best Director win over Fincher was a farce.

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTr

I'm looking forward to this. Jennifer Hudson could use a professional win.

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I. CAN'T. WAIT. FOR. THIS. FUCKING. MESS!

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMorgan (the 1st)

I'm......conflicted. I love the show itself, and love 3 out of the 4 announced cast. But, and it's a big one, this is a dance-heavy show. Taylor Swift, bless her, has no rhythm.

July 25, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterChris

I'm just astounded at what a hot mess this all sounds. But hey look... I'd rather have more sucky musical films out there if it means more musicals in general.

Then again I never got CATS. I saw it for the first time only last year and my roomie and I looked at each other afterwards and went... "WHAT? HOW? HUH?"

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Taylor Swift? That overrated, no-talent succubus cunt?

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

If they'd persuaded Stockard Channing to play Grizabella then I'd be at the front of the queue, even excited.

As it is, I'll only be going out of morbid curiousity.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Rather have Mamma Mia 3.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Oh gawd Jennifer Hudson can't even act to save her life. She won the Oscar strictly due to that showstopper. Take away all the music and what's left is a wooden stiff performance.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Yeah this is bad. Hooper is not a fun director, swift has proven her limitations on film, as has Hudson who is too young for the role. Audra is right there!

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Taylor Swift? Please, NO.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFerdi

@Pete. "Oh gawd Jennifer Hudson can't even act to save her life. "// Check out "Chi-Raq". She was fantastic there.

As for the "Cats" movie, I can't imagine it working as is. There's already a filmed version of the show which I've seen which was perfectly good for any fan of the show to relive it. It has to be different. My pitch would've been to construct a narrative around it. Like making Grizabella someone's cat, like an old lady or a child and Grizabella (or her owner) is sick or dying. They're going to the Jellicle Ball to get an extra life or go to heaven or something. That could work.

But what would they do about the cats? Will it be CGI/mo-cap cats? Then you'll have to rethink the choreography to make it more appropriate for a cat body. Will it be like the show with the makeup and cat suits? Then it has the potentially to look silly in the movie. I can only assume Tom Hooper knows what he's doing and I'm curious to see where they go with this.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

I am okay with JHud and McKellen. But Swift and Corden? Bitch please it's already a gamble enough to make this film

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSTFU

I too would like today's Donen/Minnelli/Fosse/Berkeley to step forward. The only one I can think of in the past thirty years who has come close is Trey Parker. Is he interested in directing another movie musical?

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Expecting the news of James Corden leaving the cast. The guy sucks.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJames Gunn

Jemes Corden is all the reason you need to avoid this.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Wow, a MUST-SKIP.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Will it be all cgi?

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

Irvin, yes I've seen that. Still as wooden especially her line reading!

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPete

I just saw that Disney is going ahead with a live-action Lady and the Tramp film.
I wish that they would stop re-imaging every film in their canon and just find new material!

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

catbaskets, Betty Buckley was in her mid-thirties when she won the Tony for the role; Hudson will be 37 in September.

On paper this, of course, sounds absolutely dreadful with the potential to be equally horrid in execution. How and ever, as someone who has been rooting for J. Hud since American Idol, I really need this to work in her favor. I don't care if the rest of the movie is the biggest POS to hit celluloid. I need her to be brilliant.

As for Hooper, oy vey. A film adaptation of a musical like this needs a visionary with the type of talent that can help mitigate its inherent hokiness. He ain't it.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterTrpy H.

BTW, I think I read a rumor that Taylor Swift might be playing a new character and that ALW is writing a new song for her.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Cats was the first show I ever saw on Broadway, so I have a soft spot for it. I'm just kind of perplexed as to how they're going to film it-- are the cats going to be cgi or will the actors wear cat costumes or... it just seems like a strange choice for a film. And there's already a filmed stage production.

For some reason I would rather see Ian McKellen as Gus the theatre cat instead of Old Deuteronomy.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterArabella

Live action cats singing in a wife angle lens? Bring on the garbage fire

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterchasm301

The world is already ready to hate it even more than Les Misérables.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

With Hopper directing, will we even see the cat costumes or just closeups of Taylor Swift?

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Usually I'm always excited to read about the cast of new movies but this one is so unappealing.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJack for Streep

I'm going to be obsessed with that Judi Dench pic for years to come.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I wish the animated version of Cats that Amblimation had been developing came to pass instead. The concept art for it looked gorgeous. An animated film is really the one way I could see an adaptation of a show like this working.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAustin

"... it would take real creative chutzpah and genius imagination to adapt it sufficiently to cinema to make it work at all."

...which are qualities that simply scream "GET ME TOM HOOPER!"

I can't with this. I LOVE Cats. I don't particularly need it to become a movie, but I'd be interested to see what they do with it. But then every single decision they've made so far has been so utterly wrong that I can only imagine I'll see it out of pure morbid curiosity of just how terrible it could possibly be. Like, could we possibly end up with a The Producers/Springtime For Hitler-style situation where because literally every single thing is wrong, it ends up being a camp classic?!?

JHud is COMPLETELY wrong for Grizabella. McKellen would be a better Gus than Old Deuteronomy (who has almost nothing to do in the musical). Corden... whatever. And Swift? I can't imagine what role she would be playing, so they must be creating a role just for her, and the show really doesn't need any additions.

WHY?!? Just... WHY?!?!?!?!?!?

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

Grizabella should have been Michelle Pfeiffer. She's done musicals, she was already Catwoman, and Hollywood doesn't utilize her enough. It's a perfect meta-narrative.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Eh, at least they didn't cast Meryl Streep (who I love). I'm happy that they're ramping up the singing talent with J.Hud rather than worrying about "acting." I mean, does Cats even have a script? Or need acting?

How on earth is this going to work? I can't even stand the music, and we're the target audience for this and can barely stand the idea.

Just about any other hit (or even flop) Broadway show of the last 40 years would be a better bet.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

Ingmar Bergman (among many others) has said that the closest art form to cinema is music. It stands to reason that the best directors of film musicals would be the most cinematic filmmakers. It's sad that Spike Lee, Danny Boyle, Brian DePalma, and others in that vein, haven't done a true film musical. Who are the next group of people in that vein? Maybe they can't read music off of a sheet of paper, maybe they don't have choreography experience, but you'd team them with choreographers and musical directors. As much as I'm not really looking forward to a remake of WEST SIDE STORY, at least the idea of Spielberg doing a musical is exciting. He'll know what to do with the camera, he can edit the hell out of a sequence, he knows how to handle complex mise-en-scene.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDan H

Dan H: It's hilarious that you mentioned DePalma, because does EVERYONE forget Phantom of the Paradise? And that kind of gets to why hyper cinematic directors typically don't want to do "normal" musicals. I'd guess a Coheed and Cambria adaptation (musical or not) gets that level of director before, say, Wicked gets that level of director.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Taylor Swift cant Sing.

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

One thing in this thread I'm really glad to see is that there are plenty of other folks out there who don't like James Corden. He comes off as almost entirely sycophantic and needy.

A Cats movie, ha ha, whoa.

Remember the film versions of RENT and A CHORUS LINE? How did those turn out?

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

The only way this might work would be as an animated movie- live action actors pretending to be singing dancing cats does have camp potential- it might end as one of those what- the- hell- were- they- thinking- movies

July 26, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Judi Dench was indeed cast in Cats but she tore her achilles tendon. and was replaced by Elaine Paige.

July 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoe (UK)

This makes me think that we'll have from here to twenty four years finally the filming of Wicked.

July 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterFeline Justice

I don't know if I consider "Phantom of Paradise" a musical in the "Cats," "Singin' in the Rain," "Chicago," "Sound of Music" sense, Volvagia. (And I did think about mentioning it, but my post was long enough already.)

July 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDan H

The only way I can see this working as a movie is to do it motion-capture animation. Since it would be ridiculous to have motion-capture cats dancing like Solid Gold Dancers, you could cut all the dance music and shorten the film's running time by almost 25 minutes. Just amp up the production values to state-of-the-art visual effects and concentrate on the character songs - I'd actually be excited to see THAT movie. A movie with actors dressed up in cat costumes and make-up - um, NOT SO MUCH.

July 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Lewis

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>