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Cats is one of those iconic musicals that some would say has been long overdue for a film adaptation, so the news that the project is finally moving forward would be seen as good news by some. However, before you get too excited, we've got a piece of information that may or may not color your opinion of this project: it's being directed by Les Miserables' Tom Hooper.
The bearer of potentially bad news is The Wrap, as their report has indicated that Universal and Working Title, the partners behind Hooper's 2012 nominee for Best Picture, are mounting Cats to become their next Broadway inspired film. The project is in early days, with no acting or writing talent named just yet, but the classic story of life, death, and reincarnation – through the eyes of alley cats – is sure to be seen as a crowd pleasing possibility by the studio. And yet, Universal went and did a thing like hiring Tom Hooper to direct Cats.
Say what you will about Cats as a musical, but hiring Tom Hooper to direct a feature film adaptation is probably not the best idea in the world. His previous efforts with adapting Les Miserables certainly don't inspire confidence, as the casting of Russell Crowe as Javert and the method of filming his actors no further than 10 feet away turned what should have been a home run into a massive disappointment. So obviously, turning to the Academy Award winning director behind The King's Speech to direct a more fantastical musical involving singing animals doesn't sound like the best fit. Of course, Les Miserables was a financially comfortable hit, and considering the Universal game plan, this could end up working out in the long run.
While Universal doesn't have a superhero franchise to keep itself in the money game, it does have three franchised quantities it's working to secure: Jurassic World, the Universal Monsters shared universe, and stage adaptations. At the moment, Universal also holds the rights to the Broadway smash Wicked, and was the previous rights holder to Lin-Manuel Miranda's In The Heights. While the latter didn't work out, the former could be seen as very much a priority, as it's one of those shows that people know and love by heart. So if the studio wants to continue putting out big ticket Broadway adaptations, they're going to have to succeed with Cats in a similar fashion than to how they did with Les Miserables.
Cats could turn out to be a better product than the bomb we're dreading it will be, but if this works out, Hollywood's long standing obsession with the movie musical could see a successful revival. And if that happens, it might not be long before we see bigger, more recent Broadway hits take center stage on the silver screen. Which is basically our way of telling Tom Hooper not to screw up the chances of Hamilton becoming a feature film, seeing as tickets are as impossible to snag as it is to create a hit movie musical.