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As ‘Cats’ Starts Production, Downtown Lands Admin Deal for the Musical’s Songs (EXCLUSIVE)

A film adaptation of the long-running stage show stars Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Idris Elba and Judi Dench, among others.

Downtown Music Publishing has entered into a multi-year publishing administration deal with Faber Music, which represents the musical repertoire from “Cats,” the beloved and long-running Broadway sensation currently being turned into a feature film starring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Idris Elba and Judi Dench, among others. The Universal picture, directed by Tom Hooper, recently started production and is slated for release in Dec. 2019.

Composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the music of “Cats” is rooted in the poetry collection “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. The stage show’s Broadway and London runs both broke records with the U.K. production launching in 1981 and in New York the following year. The former ran for 21 years and the latter nearly as long, winning seven Tony Awards.

Downtown’s deal with Faber, which includes royalty collection and marketing, covers the U.S. and Canada.

“We’ve chosen Downtown Music as our North American partner for ‘Cats’ because of their cutting edge approach to rights management and creative commitment,” said Richard Paine, Faber Music’s Director of Commercial Rights and Business Affairs, in announcing the signing. “’Cats’ is an important title for us, and this is an exciting time for Downtown to start working with it, with Universal’s film of the show now in production. We’re delighted to be working with them, and hope that this will be the start of an expanding relationship with Downtown.”

Downtown is home to such noted film and musical composers as Hans Zimmer, Atticus Ross, Marco Beltrami, Trevor Rabin, Heitor Pereira, Anthony Newley and the late Sir George Martin. The company also counts music from “A Star is Born,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Porgy and Bess” and “12 Years a Slave”

Added Roberto Neri, Managing Director of Downtown’s London office: “We are honored and delighted that Faber have entrusted us to represent the musical works from ‘Cats.’ Downtown will continue to protect these legacy songs, [while] providing unparalleled monetization and further exploitation opportunities.”

The show’s signature song, “Memory,” with lyrics by Trevor Nunn, was originally sung on stage by Elaine Paige; a recording she made of the tune became a top 10 hit in England in 1981, well before a cast album came out. In subsequent years, “Memory” has been most associated with Barbra Streisand, who recorded a Lloyd Webber-produced version of the song, also in 1981, and has included it in her concert tours. Barry Manilow had an adult contemporary hit with “Memory” in 1983. Susan Boyle revived it to great effect in 2009 on “Britain’s Got Talent” and recorded a studio version several years later.

The original London cast album of “Cats” became a sensation after its release in 1983 and was certified platinum five years later.

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