New 'Cats' trailer delights, terrifies the internet: 'The film will unite us in ways we can't yet know'

Ethan AlterSenior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

It’s been four months since the first trailer for Cats sent Twitter into a feline-frenzy, with reactions ranging from open-mouthed shock to furry-ious anticipation. Now we’ve actually seen with our own very eyes a fresh look at Tom Hooper’s ensemble of Jellicle cats, including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench and James Corden. Far from trying to reset public opinion, the just-released second trailer doubles down on the candy-colored, digital-fur enhanced visuals that inspired so many looks of surprise the last time around. One thing’s for sure: As long as clips from the movie keep going viral, no one’s going to be asking, “What’s a Jellicle cat?” when the movie arrives in theaters on Dec. 20.

The Jellicle Ball chooses the Jellicle Cat who gets to ascend to the Heaviside Lair. (Photo: Universal)
The Jellicle Ball chooses the Jellicle Cat who gets to ascend to the Heaviside Lair. (Photo: Universal)

For those who are coming in late to the Cats phenomenon, the film is based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s oh-so-1980s Broadway blockbuster (which in turn was inspired by the poems of T.S. Eliot) in which a diverse group of felines compete to see which of them gets to ascend to the Heaviside Lair and be reborn into a new Jellicle life. That competition unfolds at the annual Jellicle Ball, where contestants perform a spectacle-driven series of musical numbers.

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Among the cats in contention for resurrection are Gus the Theatre Cat (Ian McKellen), who played, in his time, every possible part; the very nimble Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat (Steven McRae); the manners-obsessed Jennyanydots (Rebel Wilson); and the mournful Grizabella the Glamour Cat (Hudson), who sings the musical’s signature number, “Memory.” Not for nothing, but the last time Hudson sang the biggest tune from a Broadway classic-turned-feature film, she won an Oscar.

Jennifer Hudson stars as Grizabella in <em>Cats</em>. (Photo: Universal)
Jennifer Hudson stars as Grizabella in Cats. (Photo: Universal)

Where the original trailer was mostly an introduction to the film’s... uh, unique visual style, this new one lays out the stakes of the competition and includes more shots of characters like Francesca Hayward’s Victoria (who appears to be the audience’s primary POV cat in this version of the story), Dench’s Jellicle leader Old Deuteronomy and Idris Elba’s devilishly dangerous Macavity the Mystery Cat.

Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in <em>Cats</em>. (Photo: Universal Pictures)
Taylor Swift as Bombalurina in Cats. (Photo: Universal Pictures)

We also see — but don’t hear — Swift singing and dancing as Bombalurina. The pop superstar collaborated with Webber on an original song for the film that she’ll almost certainly be reprising at the Oscars next year. For now, you can listen to it below.

So far, at least, the latest trailer isn’t doing much to bridge the divide between those baffled by Cats and those who can’t wait for Cats. The former group are still predicting cat-astrophe, especially considering the movie’s reportedly extravagant price tag.

But for the pro-Cats squad — particularly die-hard Swifties — this footage is nothing but catnip.

One way or another, Cats is coming to theaters in one month. Be prepared to make your own Jellicle Choice whether to see it...or run screaming to The Rise of Skywalker.

Cats opens in theaters on Dec. 20.

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