Earlier reports had suggested that the film based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical about Jellicle cats would not be vying for end-of-year awards because it isn’t done yet.
But sources tell Variety that “Cats” has been scheduled to screen for the Hollywood Foreign Press in early December, which could put it into contention for multiple nominations in the Globes’ best musical or comedy motion picture categories.
The Golden Globe nominations are announced on Dec. 9, and HFPA members must see all 2019 films by Dec. 4.
Universal Pictures, which is distributing the film, declined to comment.
Even with a Globes screening set, director Tom Hooper is still racing through Thanksgiving to finish a print by the deadline for HFPA voters. More than 100 visual effects artists were employed to work on “Cats,” which is using a lengthy and costly process to add CGI cat fur to the bodies of all the live-action actors.
The road to “Cats” on the big screen has not been easy. The movie, which boasts a formidable cast that includes Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Ian McKellan, James Corden, Jason Derulo, Rebel Wilson and Taylor Swift as singing and dancing felines, has had numerous false starts over the years. While the production, which is estimated to have cost more than $100 million (not including marketing), shot last winter, a lengthy post-production process has left Universal scrambling to get a finished print done for Christmas.
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After two trailers, which were ridiculed online, questions still remain about the commercial and critical prospects for “Cats.” Hooper’s previous three films — “The King’s Speech,” “Les Miserables” and “The Danish Girl” — all won Oscars. Hooper filmed “Cats” similar to his 2012 adaptation of “Les Miserables,” where actors were required to sing live in the scenes. This time, however, the cast was assembled in a mythical world, where everything was at least three times the scale of their human bodies, to give the impression that the actors are much tinier.
That said, one insider who saw early footage reported that the scale of the characters is confusing. The cats depicted in “Cats” often look as small as mice or other rodents, not the size of domestic four-legged cats.
Another source says that Donna Langley, the chair of Universal Pictures, is high on the film based on the cut that she’s seen. Studio executives have been advocates for the project for years, but it wasn’t until 2017 that they believed technology had caught up to Hooper’s vision for “Cats.” In the marketing, Universal has introduced the phrase “digital fur technology” into the lexicon, and the studio is bracing for scrutiny by pushing out the narrative that “Cats” has been a successful musical for more than 30 years, one that’s been fully embraced by the public.
Universal is hoping there’s a big enough holiday moviegoing audience to make a hit of “Cats,” which opens Dec. 20 against “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
If “Cats” does score with the Golden Globes, which in the past has celebrated musicals such as “Chicago” and “La La Land,” it would give the movie a boost in time for the Academy Awards. One thing seems certain: the original song “Beautiful Ghosts,” co-written by Swift and Lloyd Webber, is likely to be nominated at both the Oscars and the Globes.