IT is the show renowned for launching the megamusical and now, nearly 40 years after it was first staged, Cats is set to grace the silver screen.

It’s an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical?

Cats was composed by him, inspired by the 1939 poetry collection, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T.S. Eliot, of which Lloyd Webber was a lifelong fan. It tells the tale of the Jellicles, a tribe of cats on the one night of the year they come together to make the "Jellicle choice" – which cat is to be reborn to a new life.

The musical split the critics?

The feline extravaganza had positive reviews when it first staged in the West End in May 1981 – with Elaine Paige playing the role of Grizabella, performing the enduring song, Memory – but received mixed reviews in New York the following year. It ultimately became an industry juggernaut, with the London production running for 21 years and the Broadway show running for 18.

It became a phenomenon?

When it first staged, nothing like it had entertained audiences before – with the whole of the theatre used as a stage, for example, and the standout track, Memory, etching itself in the national consciousness. It also drew to the theatre a new demographic previously turned off by "elitist" productions. In its first eight years in the West End, every seat in the house was sold.

Now it’s a movie?

A lavish production – with an estimated budget of £230 million – is set to take to the silver screen next week, based on the stage show and directed by Tom Hooper, who previously helmed 2012's Les Miserables.

It has a starry cast?

Dame Judi Dench, Sir Ian McKellen, James Cordon, Idris Elba and Taylor Swift to name but a few. English ballerina, Francesca Hayward, who is a principal dancer in the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, also stars, as does Australian actress Rebel Wilson and US singer, Jennifer Hudson.

The trailer sparked a backlash?

When the first teaser trailer dropped in the summer, the internet went wild, with divided reactions to the design of the cats which, using CGI, depicted them as photo-realistic human-like characters.

All publicity is good publicity?

It was the number one trending topic on Twitter worldwide for a spell, certainly boosting the movie’s profile.

And Hooper said the response aided the continuing production: “We’d only finished shooting in March, so all the visual effects [in the trailer] were at quite an early stage…When you watch the finished film, you’ll see that some of the designs of the cats have moved on since then, and certainly our understanding of how to use the technology to make them work has gone up, too."

It already has an award nomination?

The song, Beautiful Ghosts, written by Swift – who plays Bombalurina in the film _ and Lloyd Webber, has been nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globes, which take place in January.

The movie opens on December 20.