When is Cats released in cinemas? Who’s in the cast and what is the musical about?

The Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift and Idris Elba musical should be meow-sic to the ears of Andrew Lloyd Webber fans

Movie still from the film trailer for Cats

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is one of the most successful musicals of all time, and now it’s being adapted for the big screen for the first time. With an extraordinary cast of Hollywood and music stars involved – from Jennifer Hudson to Taylor Swift – we’re expecting big things. Here’s everything we know so far…

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When is Cats released in cinemas?

Cats is released on Friday 20th December 2019 in the UK and USA – just in time for a Christmas cinema visit.


Who is in the cast of the Cats movie?

Jennifer Hudson, Getty
Jennifer Hudson

A stellar cast of actors and musicians has been assembled. This includes Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Taylor Swift as flirtatious feline Bombalurina, Pitch Perfect star Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, James Corden as Bustopher Jones and Idris Elba as Macavity.

Taylor Swift on the set of Cats
Taylor Swift on the set of Cats

Also, notably, Judi Dench, who had prepared to play Grizabella in the premiere of Lloyd Webber’s theatre production in 1981, but was forced to pull out after tearing an Achilles tendon, will finally get her chance to appear in the musical in 2019, this time in the part of Old Deuteronomy.  She joins veteran British actors Ian McKellen and Ray Winstone as Gus the Theatre Cat and Growltiger, respectively.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 05: Judi Dench attends the "Victoria & Abdul" UK premiere held at Odeon Leicester Square on September 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/WireImage)
Judi Dench was originally cast in the 1981 premiere of Cats, but pulled out due to injury

There will also be appearances by newcomers Laurie Davidson, Steven McRae, Eric Underwood, Francesca Haywood, Robert Fairchild and Mette Towley.

And Cats has some serious dance pedigree, too, with Royal Ballet principal Frankie Hayward involved, along with hip hop duo Larry and Laurent Bourgeiois (aka Les Twins), and choreography by Hamilton’s Andy Blankenbuehler.


Is there a trailer for Cats?

Yes, there is! The trailer for Cats dropped on Friday 19th July, featuring cat-ified versions of Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, James Corden and Jennifer Hudson, among others.

Universal had previously released a three-and-a-half-minute glimpse behind the scenes:

The footage features interviews with all the major stars – including Taylor Swift, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson and James Corden – plus an insight into the technology deployed in recreating the cats themselves, and a glimpse of the larger-than-life sets.

Cats behind the scenes trailer, YouTube

What is Cats about?

Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical of the same name, which was in turn based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a book of poems by T.S Eliot, Cats tells the story of a group of cats called the Jellicles. Over a single night they must make the “Jellicle choice” and decide which cat will ascend into the Heaviside Layer – a metaphor for Heaven.


Will there be dancing Cats?

With Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler signed onto the project, it’s safe to say that Cats will feature dancing – although given that motion capture technology has been used, the end result looks a little different from the humanoid cats of the stage production…


Will the Cats in the film be human-sized?

As with the stage musical, an oversized set and motion-capture suits were utilised during filming to create the illusion of a cat’s perspective, so, to viewers, the film’s felines will actually look roughly cat-sized.


Who sings Memory in Cats?

It is Grizabella who takes on vocal duties for Cats’ most famous song, so we can expect to be treated to a Jennifer Hudson tour-de-force. See above for a spinetingling performance by Hudson at CinemaCon 2019.


Who is writing and directing Cats?

Cats is directed by Tom Hooper who, as the man behind Les Misérables (2012), has previous in bringing hit theatre musicals to the big screen. More recently, he helmed biographical drama Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayne.

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Hooper co-wrote the screenplay of Cats together with playwright Lee Hall, whose previous credits include the film adaptation of Billy Elliot (2000) and War Horse (2011).