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Cats: Star-studded CinemaCon sneak peek confirms motion capture and felines to scale

By Brian Silliman
Dame Judi Dench (Credit: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Universal brought the big guns to their CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Not just a big gun, a purrrrfectly Jellicle gun. That's right — the first behind-the-scenes footage has been seen of the film adaptation of Catsthe insanely long-running musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. We're trying to remember a time when Cats wasn't a thing, but the memory just isn't there.

Tom Hooper is directing the CGI-heavy, motion-captured musical after having success with his screen adaptation of the musical Les Miserables. The Jellicle cast is nothing to scratch at, with Jennifer Hudson playing Grizabella (who sings the breakout song "Memory," takes a ride on a giant tire, and ... doesn't do much else), Dame Judi Dench as a gender-swapped Old Deuteronomy, Sir Ian McKellen as Gus the Theater Cat, James Corden as Bustopher, and none other than Idris Elba as Macavity. As if that weren't enough star-cat power, Rebel Wilson, Jason Derulo, and Taylor Swift are also gonna be getting into the Jellicle jams.

According to Entertainment Weekly, audiences were told that actual Jellicle footage wasn't completely finished yet, but they did see a BTS clip interviewing every member of the cast. Swift and Elba were seen in dance rehearsals together (not for the last time, we hope), with the cast in motion-capture suits.

The motion-capture element of the process makes things even more interesting, as all of the actors seen in the screened footage were wearing the now-infamous mo-cap suits, including Sir Ian and Dame Judi, we imagine. The suits were without fur and tails, which will be added digitally. The actors were seen on large "household sets," according to EW, which were "enormous with chairs, doors, and other furniture scaled up to make the actors appear cat-sized." 

This is possibly the most Jellicle revelation thus far. In the classic stage musical, humans are dressed up in cat costumes, and dance about as such on slightly oversized sets. The footage showed that the actors in the movie will be completely cat-sized, and that the Jellicle sets around them will appear as such. When you add in the CGI element, we can expect to see cats that will look, act, and be the size of actual cats, but with the faces and mannerisms of famous actors. We'll be seeing everything from the point of view of the cats, just as God and T.S. Eliot intended.

Naturally, this means that the actors had to take some Jellicle time studying the movements of real-life cats. Dame Judi herself said in the featurette, "We spent a very long time observing cats or learning how to be a cat." If anyone can do that Jellicle justice, it is Dame Judi.

Cats will purr into theaters Dec. 20, and nothing is gonna claw them out. Once those Jellicle tickets go on Jellicle sale, you'd better buy them in advance.

Are you excited to let the memory live again, or do you have no Jellicle interest in any of these Jellicle cats? Are you wondering why we keep saying "Jellicle"? Leave us a Jellicle comment in the section below. Jellicle comments for Jellicle readers!