First Details of Taylor Swift’s Cats Movie Were Not What We Expected

A new sizzle reel shows the motion-capture technology used in the upcoming film adaptation.

Broadway Theatre advertisements for Cats the musical above a theatre in the Theatre District - New Y...
Kim Grant

Despite what a certain Netflix show would have you believe, the cast of Cats isn’t actually composed merely of whichever aspiring Broadway stars happen to hop onstage on any given day. Not only do the regular stage tours and revivals have predetermined cast lists, but so too does the upcoming film adaptation, which will be loaded with stars like Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Judi Dench, and many more. Though much of the shock caused by the idea of celebrities as varied as Sir Ian McKellan and Jason Derulo going full feline in the corny yet beloved musical has already died down, the Twitterverse was sent spiraling anew on Wednesday, when a sizzle reel shown at Cinema Con gave an inside look at the extent to which director Tom Hooper and the rest of his team have gone in order to make a film about singing cats as realistic as possible.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, no actual footage from the film was included in the clip, since shooting only wrapped earlier this week and still needs to be treated with a whole host of special effects. Among these effects will be hyper-realistic fur and facial movements, and heavily CGI’d sets: The behind-the-scenes footage reportedly showed the cast wearing high-tech motion-capture suits and covered in body and facial trackers as they filmed scenes in front of blue- and green-screened sets. This high-tech choice marks a major departure from typical Cats protocol, which sees stage actors (and even the cast of the 1998 direct-to-video film version) covering themselves in fake fur and face paint to transform into the titular squad of Jellicles.

More striking, however, is the revelation that Hooper and company employed the use of massively oversize set pieces in order to scale the film’s stars down to the size of actual cats. While this actually keeps in line with the traditions of the original Broadway show—the typical stage set is comprised of a similarly oversize trash heap—judging by the plethora of all-caps tweets about it, this was the most exciting revelation to come out of Cinema Con (take that, Joker).

All of these effects will undoubtedly do an exceptionally creepy job of making the human cast look way too much like cats. As star James Corden reportedly put it in the sizzle reel, “These are people but they’re cats and it’s kind of blowing my mind.”

Please enjoy this video of Hudson singing “Memory” after the behind-the-scenes footage had aired. It may be the last time you’re able to picture her singing the iconic song (or any song, for that matter) sans too-realistic CGI cat costume.

Related: Everything We Know About the Cats Movie Starring Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, and More