It’s been four months since the first trailer for Cats sent Twitter into a feline-frenzy, with reactions ranging from open-mouthed shock to furry-ious anticipation. Now we’ve actually seen with our own very eyes a fresh look at Tom Hooper’s ensemble of Jellicle cats, including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench and James Corden. Far from trying to reset public opinion, the just-released second trailer doubles down on the candy-colored, digital-fur enhanced visuals that inspired so many looks of surprise the last time around. One thing’s for sure: As long as clips from the movie keep going viral, no one’s going to be asking, “What’s a Jellicle cat?” when the movie arrives in theaters on Dec. 20.
For those who are coming in late to the Cats phenomenon, the film is based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s oh-so-1980s Broadway blockbuster (which in turn was inspired by the poems of T.S. Eliot) in which a diverse group of felines compete to see which of them gets to ascend to the Heaviside Lair and be reborn into a new Jellicle life. That competition unfolds at the annual Jellicle Ball, where contestants perform a spectacle-driven series of musical numbers.
Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables, The Danish Girl) transforms Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-shattering stage musical into a breakthrough cinematic event. Cats stars James Corden, Judi Dench, Jason Derulo, Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson and introduces Royal Ballet principal dancer Francesca Hayward in her feature film debut. Featuring Lloyd Webber’s iconic music and a world-class cast of dancers under the guidance of Tony-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton, In the Heights), the film reimagines the musical for a new generation with spectacular production design, state-of-the-art technology, and dance styles ranging from classical ballet to contemporary, hip-hop to jazz, street dance to tap. The film also stars Robbie Fairchild (Broadway’s An American in Paris), Laurie Davidson (TNT’s Will), hip-hop dance sensation Les Twins (Larry and Laurent Bourgeois), acclaimed dancer Mette Towley (featured in videos for Rihanna and Pharrell Williams’ N.E.R.D.), Royal Ballet principal dancer Steven McRae, and rising-star singer Bluey Robinson.
Among the cats in contention for resurrection are Gus the Theatre Cat (Ian McKellen), who played, in his time, every possible part; the very nimble Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat (Steven McRae); the manners-obsessed Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson); and the mournful Grizabella the Glamour Cat (Hudson), who sings the musical’s signature number, “Memory.” Not for nothing, but the last time Hudson sang the biggest tune from a Broadway classic-turned-feature film, she won an Oscar.
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