What in the name of Andrew Lloyd Webber is going on with the movie adaptation of Cats? At CinemaCon, Universal finally revealed a few details about the highly anticipated musical—and each one made this movie sound more like a glorious fever dream.
Truly, the mind boggles at each and every additional scrap of information. Why are the films performers—which include Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, and Jennifer Hudson, in case youve forgotten—being rendered in motion capture as actual cats, rather than human performers in cat makeup? Because Jellicles are! Why were they filmed on giant sets filled with giant furniture? Because Jellicles do! (And because that makes them look more cat-sized, we suppose.) Why on earth would Idris Elba earnestly declare that he prepared for the film by honing his understanding of the world from “the cat perspective”?! Because, of course, Jellicles do, and Jellicles can.
Here, for your perusal, are a few more crucial pieces of information about the Cats movie, which will be released December 20.
Seriously. Motion capture.
Universal declined to show any footage from the actual film—or even concept art—to the theater owners and journalists gathered at CinemaCon. The studio did, however, reveal that rather than opting to shoot the cast in spandex cat costumes, director Tom Hooper went with motion-capture technology. So, the cats in Cats will appear as actual cats. Actual singing cats. As James Corden, another person who is for some reason in this film, helpfully explained in a promo video, “These are people, but theyre cats, and its kind of blowing my mind.”
But the madness does not stop there. As several reporters present at the event made sure to note on Twitter, the films sets were oversize in order to render the Cats cats cat-sized. On average, the set and its contents were three to four times larger than normal human scale. No word yet on whether this means the actors spent the entire duration of the shoot crawling around on all fours.
Digital. Fur. Technology.
Hooper and his team apparently used “digital fur technology to create the most perfect covering of fur.”
For those wondering what, exactly, that means, Slashfilm helpfully explains: “the behind-the-scenes footage screened featured actors in leotards with markers on their face, placed there so visual effects wizards can add that realistic fur in post-production.”
This is both surreal and completely fur-real.
The cast really committed.
Yes, its very easy for spectators at home to snark over the strange curiosity that is Cats. But know this: the films cast really cared about their performances. Said Dench in the clip shown at CinemaCon: “We spent a very very long time preparing how to be a cat.” Elba added that the key to his performance was learning to look at the world through “the cat perspective.” I have no words.
Jennifer Hudson sang “Memory” at the presentation.
Obviously, we knew this would happen as soon as she was cast in the film—and honestly, its the only facet of the big-screen Cats that might actually make sense.
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