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Cats Trailer Unspools Fantastical Feline Frenzy

Ready or not, it's about time to make the Jellicle choice. 

Universal Pictures has unveiled the first trailer for Cats, acclaimed director Tom Hooper's feature film take on Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic stage play of the same name. 

Led by newcomer Francesca Hayward, a Kenya-born ballerina and principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at London's Covent Garden, as the shy white kitten Victoria, Cats hits the same emotional story beats as the play upon which it's based — and the collection of T.S. Eliot poems that work translated. Audiences will watch as the tribe of cats known as the Jellicles, each with their own eccentric personalities and silly-sounding names, come together on a fateful night to decide which member of their group will ascend to another plane of existence they call Heaviside Layer to be reborn as a brand-new feline. With song and dance, laughter and tears, and journeys all across the city, the Jellicle cats must arrive at a final decision before the sun rises. 

The Cats trailer, which opens on Jennifer Hudson singing the famous tune "Memory" in character as the decrepit and lonely cat Grizabella, teases the Jellicle choice as it introduces viewers to the main players of the pack: Jason Derulo as the rebellious attention-seeker Rum Tum Tugger, Judi Dench as the wise Jellicle leader (and apparently gender-swapped) Old Deuteronomy, James Corden as the jolly Bustopher Jones, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theatre Cat, Idris Elba as the magic-powered criminal mastermind Macavity, Taylor Swift as the confident and flirtatious Bombalurina, and Rebel Wilson as the lazy-by-day, lively-by-night Jennyanydots. 

What the footage also shows is the use of digital fur technology, which adds CGI fur to human actors in post-production to keep the stars from having to wear heavy costumes. (We can't imagine how tough it would be to pirouette while wearing a 50-pound fur suit.) Though it looks seriously impressive, the blending of live-action performances with full-body CGI fur has left many people uneasy, uncomfortable, and wanting to toss the Cats film to the Heaviside Layer with no promise of return.

"Oh good all of my sleep paralysis demons have gotten together to make a musical out of my nightmares," someone wrote in the comments of the Cats trailer posted to YouTube. Another added, "This looks scarier than all the Conjuring movies. Dear god, why?" 

Whether this trailer has you unsettled by the half-human, half-cat designs, or if it got you all hyped up to finally see a feature film version of the musical you probably saw a handful of times in your youth, it's probably best to reserve final judgments about the flick until it rolls out in theaters this holiday season.

Cats is set to pounce onto cinema screens on December 20.