Heading into today's Universal presentation at CinemaCon, the big topic of conversation was Tom Hooper's Cats. Would there be a trailer? Would we finally find out what the cats in Cats look like? Would Universal march Taylor Swift out onstage and have her perform a song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic musical? Was it possible they might not even mention Cats?
I am pleased to report that Universal did, in fact, mention Cats.
The presentation was preceded with something of an apology - there was no Cats footage to share. Turns out, elaborate CGI effects are being employed to bring the cats to life, and that footage is still being tinkered with by whichever VFX house has been tasked with bringing Hooper's vision to the big screen. Instead, we were shown a behind-the-scenes sizzle reel featuring talking head testimonials from a number of Cats cast members, and this footage revealed something extremely important:
The cats in Cats are cat-sized.
To clarify that: all the sets we saw were gigantic, cavernous spaces filled with comically oversized chairs and freakishly large doorways. One scene seemed to be taking place near an enormous kitchen table, and the humans milling about its chairs were dwarfed by the furniture. In voiceover, Idris Elba mentioned that the film is intended to tell the story of Cats from the cats' perspective, and...well, they've certainly committed to that particular bit. Having only ever seen photos of Broadway performers in their Cats costumes, this came as quite the surprise.
I was prepared for just about any Cats reveal other than this one. I figured the cats would be all CGI, or humans in elaborate makeup, or some combination of the two (from what I could tell from the footage we were shown, it's the latter: a combination of costumes, makeup and CGI accents on the cats' bodies). I was not prepared to see people interacting with sets that looked like something out of Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
There's nothing further to report at this time (again, we saw no actual footage from the film), but does that even matter at this point? You know what Cats is. And now you know kinda what it's gonna look like. What a truly magical time this is to be alive.
Stay tuned for more from CinemaCon as the week progresses, and stay safe out there.
(Note: header photo by Louis Peng, used with permission via Pexels)