The Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical about the frolicking felines, which has earned billions at the box-office worldwide since its 1981 debut and is the longest-running play on Broadway, could soon be coming to your television set.
Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group is reportedly in early negotiations for a deal with PolyGram Television, a minority shareholder in his company. The stage version of Cats will be filmed and transferred to tape for home-video release and, possibly, domestic and international television or cable broadcast.
Sources familiar with the deal say that if the Cats video proves successful, other Lloyd Webber musicals could come to the small screen, including hits like Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat and Starlight Express) and misses, such as the little-seen Aspects of Love. Because Evita was just released as a feature (and is coming to video Tuesday), PolyGram will not have the rights to distribute a filmed stage version for several years.
There are currently six versions of Cats playing around the world--Tokyo, London, Hamburg, Budapest, New York and an American touring company. It's not yet known which version will be filmed, but sources say the London version is the leading contender.
PolyGram has recently had tremendous success in the home-video market with the dance spectacle Lord of the Dance, starring Irish prancer Michael Flatley. The video, a filmed version of the stage production, has sold more than 100,000 copies. The Dutch entertainment conglomerate's TV division, which opened for business in March, obviously hopes that Lloyd Webber's cavorting cats, histrionic diva and roller-coasting trains can repeat that success.
No details are available yet as to how this deal, if finalized, will affect the film rights of Lloyd Webber's work. Cats has long been planned as a movie, the latest attempt being the announced plan by Universal Pictures to made an animated version based on a script by Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow, with Lloyd Webber as executive producer. And a Phantom of the Opera flick is also rumored to be in development.