Cats musical may be next for film treatment, says Andrew Lloyd Webber

Success of the screen version of Les Misérables has revived Universal Pictures' interest in filming the classic West End show

• Andrew Lloyd Webber: modern musicals lack 'good songs'
• Top 10 film musicals

Andrew Lloyd Webber has let the cat out of the bag: Cats – the second longest-running musical in Broadway history – could be about to get the silver-screen treatment.

The composer told the Daily Mail that Universal Pictures owned the screen rights to the project and talks were taking place about the possibility of a film as a result of the success of the screen version of Les Misérables, which grossed more than $450m worldwide.

"Universal has now got Cats out of the drawer in which they locked it years ago when they bought the rights, and suddenly they're talking about a film," Lloyd Webber said.

The stage production was filmed live and released on DVD in 2000, two years before it closed on its 21st anniversary in the West End.

Based on TS Eliot's collection of poetry Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, Lloyd Webber's musical opened in the West End in 1981, racking up 8,949 performances. It won best new musical at the Olivier awards, and choreographer Gillian Lynne was presented with an outstanding achievement award.

However, its success was never a certainty, said Lloyd Webber. "We never knew whether the public was going to love Cats until the moment we saw a cat go on stage. It could have been the most terrible moment of bathos in musical theatre. I remember sitting backstage waiting for the response," he recalled.

The composer, who opens his new musical Stephen Ward this month, also let slip that he hasn't actually watched the Les Misérables movie. "I haven't seen the film," he continued, "but it's fantastic for musicals because everybody wants to make them again."

• Andrew Lloyd Webber: modern musicals lack 'good songs'
• Top 10 film musicals


Matt Trueman

The GuardianTramp

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