Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) will direct a new film adaptation of Tennessee Williams‘ play Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, based on the 2008 Broadway production that featured an all-Black cast.
Fuqua will also produce the project alongside Broadway producers Stephen C. Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey.
The 2008 staging made history with a sold out 19-week run as the first all African-American production of the Broadway classic, as well as becoming the highest grossing play during that season.
That version was directed by Debbie Allen and starred Terrence Howard in his Broadway debut alongside Tony Award winners Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad and James Earl Jones.
The Broadway production was also successfully staged on London’s West End, where it won The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival of A Play. The 20-week run played to sellout audiences that were, producers said, overwhelmingly new to the West End – a study conducted by the theatre owner reported that 78 percent of the buyers were new attendees.
This new version will combine elements of the classic play with new storylines. “Bringing such a historic production to the screen is an honor I am thrilled to have alongside Stephen and Alia”, said Fuqua in a statement. “They have shown their commitment to the project with two successful stagings on Broadway and the West End and know what it takes to translate this iconic drama from theatre to cinema”.
Williams originally wrote the play in the 50s, based off his own short story Three Players Of A Summer Game. Set in the “plantation home in the Mississippi Delta” of Big Daddy Pollitt, a wealthy cotton tycoon, the play examines the relationships among members of Big Daddy’s family, primarily between his son Brick and Maggie the “Cat”, Brick’s wife.
The play went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955, and was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in 1958. Williams made substantial excisions and alterations to the play for a revival in 1974, and that version has been used for most subsequent productions, and likely this new film as well.
This project adds to Fuqua’s busy schedule, as he’s already got two films due later this year. The first is sci-fi actioner Infinite, which revolves around a man discovering that his hallucinations are actually visions from past lives. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jason Mantzoukas. That’s due in September.
But he’s also got the American remake of Danish thriller The Guilty due out at an undisclosed time later this year on Netflix. That stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, and Riley Keough.
Fuqua also recently helmed documentary The Day Sports Stood Still, which investigates how Covid-19 changed college and professional sports, and how players began publicly arguing for social justice and police reform in the wake of several instances of police killing unarmed Black people.
Fuqua has always been an reliably excellent filmmaker, and has also generated thought-provoking content for both film and TV through his production company, Fuqua Films. This new version of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof should be no different. It will be exciting to see what an all-Black cast can bring to the project.