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Everything to Know About the ‘Cats’ Movie

Jellicles old and Jellicles new! Nearly four decades after Cats opened on Broadway, the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is headed to the big screen with Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and Idris Elba donning whiskers for the cinematic adaptation.

The success of the stage version of the story is remarkable: The original Broadway production ran from 1982 to 2000, racking up more than $388 million, earning the Tony Award for Best Musical, and holding the record for the longest-running show on the Great White Way for nearly a decade.

Now the musical — originally based on the 1939 T. S. Eliot poetry book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats — is getting its own film adaptation. Universal Pictures and Working Title Films announced the production in May 2016, tapping Oscar-winning filmmaker Tom Hooper to direct and adding big stars like Swift and Hudson.

“Obviously, I loved the show, I loved the music, and one of the things that made Cats so special when it came out in the ’80s was that it was presented in a way people hadn’t seen before,” Swift told Entertainment Weekly in May 2019.

For those new to the story, Cats’ official IMDb logline lays out the premise: “A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.”

Production of Cats started in December 2018 and wrapped in April 2019, so now it’s just a waiting game until the film’s release. While we count down the days, get up to speed on the details of the film adaptation — or refresh your “Memory” — with the photo gallery below.

Star-Studded Cast

The film stars Swift as Bombalurina, Hudson as Grizabella, Elba as Macavity, Judi Dench as Old Deuteronomy, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Rebel Wilson as Jennyanydots, Ray Winstone as Growltiger and Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for dcp

Behind-the-Scenes Talent

There are even more Broadway connections. Lee Hall, Cats’ co-screenwriter, also wrote the script to the 2000 film Billy Elliot and the book and lyrics for its Tony-winning Broadway musical adaptation. And Tom Hooper, Cats’ director (pictured here), previously helmed the 2012 film Les Misérables, based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name.

Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Digital Fur

“They add digital fur to us,” Swift told EW, explaining the filming process. “They’re completely human performances. It’s not animated. And it’s not motion capture. It’s somehow this new way that hasn’t been done before. And they’re giving us a tail that moves naturally, and ears and whiskers. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.”

Courtesy Taylor Swift/Instagram

Cat School

“I just fully committed and threw myself into the process and had the most fun,” Swift added. “We had this thing called ‘cat school’ that was a class where you could learn about how to create the motions of cats, how to think like they think, how to sense things the way that they do, carry yourself the way a cat would. I learned a lot.”

Courtesy Taylor Swift/Instagram

Box Office Competition

Universal Pictures has scheduled Cats for release on December 20, 2019, the same day that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is due in theaters.

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