Well-known and beloved Broadway musical “Cats” has big plans to become a musical movie, set to be released on Dec. 20, 2019. “Cats” was created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is based on a collection of poems from the “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot. The poems follow the secret world of the Jellicle cats. Tom Hooper, director of “The King’s Speech” and “Les Miserables,” is set to direct it, and the script is to be written by Lee Hall. There are already some cast members lined up for this movie musical, including Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, James Corden and Ian McKellen. Jennifer Hudson is the only cast member with a role currently assigned, and she will be playing Grizabella. “Cats” will be just the latest in a long line of Broadway shows to hit the cinemas. The New York Times says, “it is an unspoken rule that every money making property must be revived, rebooted or reimagined at least twice” so this “could explain why ‘Cats’ is finally getting the full-on cinematic treatment.” I do not completely agree with this statement, because although there are some great remakes of famous musicals, every great story does not need to be “reimagined at least twice.” Some don’t even need to be reimagined once. As much as I love a great musical movie recreation, too many can take away from the special qualities that an original Broadway show possesses.
Musicals seem to have taken the movie industry by storm. After all, music is such an integral part of entertainment, so how can you not include it in cinema? Composer Alan Menken, known for his Oscar winning compositions for Disney movies such as “The Little Mermaid,” “Pocahontas,” “Aladdin” and “Beauty and the Beast,” shared his thoughts with The Washington Post about this trend, arguing that “movies are a natural source for musicals, just as books and plays were for so many standards written in Broadway’s Golden Age.” The same can be said for musicals being a natural source for movies, which is shown in how “Cats,” as well as many other shows, are being created into movies. It is interesting to me that with the power and creativity that Hollywood has, they need to mooch off of Broadway shows created for the stage instead of creating more of their own ideas for movies. I think that, with the abilities that the movie industry has today, there should not be such a dependence of Hollywood on Broadway for inspiration for their movies. If too many Broadway musical recreations are made, it could possibly take away from the magic and success that theatre has and could have in the future.
There are some criticisms that go along with my opinion about why movies and Broadway musicals should remain separate for the most part. One criticism from The Washington Post is that the combination “may be sabotaging ingenuity in one of America’s proudest native art forms,” and some ask “aren’t all these adaptations trumping fresh ideas?” If Hollywood keeps pumping out remakes of famous and popular Broadway shows, people are going to flock to those movies instead of to new musicals being performed live on stage. The Washington Post says that this is because most people can be “leery of paying $100 and up for tickets to something they know nothing about.” People are drawn to stories that they already know and love, and if they are being shown as a movie at a movie theatre, which is much more cheaper and accessible, they are most likely going to choose to do that over paying tons of money to see a new musical and story on Broadway.
Movies definitely seem to be more popular than Broadway theatre performances today, mainly because movies are much cheaper to see and there are new ones out almost every week to keep people entertained. When you turn famous Broadway shows into movies, the shows become more accessible to audiences that people can enjoy over and over again, without ever actually going to see them on Broadway. For me personally, I definitely go to the movies more than I go to the theatre, mainly because it is much less expensive and more accessible. This idea of the movies being more accessible to people already makes Broadway a second option, and with Hollywood recreating Broadway shows, it takes away from the special elements of theatre.
I love a good musical on the screen, so I don’t think remakes should stop being produced entirely, but I do think it is important that some shows stay on the stage in order to preserve the essence of Broadway. I strongly believe that “Cats” is going to be a stellar movie based on the intriguing cast and great director lined up to create it, and I’m excited to see what Hollywood has in store for bringing this show to the big screen!