Book to Box Office: Prince of Cats
Based on: Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly
Expected Release Date: N/A
Directed by: N/A
Summary: Prince of Cats is a retelling of Romeo & Juliet from the point of view of Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin and the titular prince of cats. The action starts before the play and we get to see what happened in Tybalt’s life to make him the angry and violent young man of the original play. Also, the whole book is set in 1983 Brooklyn, mostly written in iambic pentameter, infused with ’80s hip hop style, and written and drawn by design maestro Ron Wimberly.
Working for it: Hamilton is a cultural phenomenon that blends history, Shakespeare and hip-hop. Prince of Cats does something similar but brings in Japanese swordplay and street violence. Prince of Cats feels like it is the Rolling Stones to Hamilton’s The Beatles; they’re doing similar things but one feels more edgy, more dangerous.
Working against it: It is pretty esoteric. Visually, I imagine it’s an easy sell, but the depth of the language and work needed to understand each line (much like in Shakespeare) might turn some viewers off. However, Shakespeare still sells and given the right cast, the right crew, and the right soundtrack there’s nothing to say that people won’t come out in droves to see Prince of Cats too.
Wild Card: It’s something new riffing on something old. It’s unique while being familiar. It’s saying something and telling an incredible story. It’s also a chance to get more black voices on screen and show us something new and interesting rather than the same old stories, especially when it comes to Shakespeare.
Verdict: Of the books we’ve done in this feature, this is one I’m dying to see made onto the big screen and also the one I doubt I’ll ever see. This could be a great showcase of talent both in front of and behind the camera and a brave studio would be right to try and see what they could do with it.
Featured Image: Vertigo