Every now and then, art from Steven Spielberg’s long-abandoned animated adaptation of Cats, the hit musical that became one of Broadway’s longest running shows via its surefire combination of obscure children’s poetry and adults running around in kittycat costumes calling each other things like “Munkustrap” and “Rumpleteazer,” will surface on the Internet. Past art has shown the titular felines slinking around the edges of a brightly lit city, presumably while singing about Jellicle Balls or Rum Tum Tuggers.
Some new concept art, though, recently released by production designer Hans Bacher, shows that the film, which was dropped when Spielberg’s Amblimation studio closed in 1997, might have had a much darker vibe if it had ever been completed. Spielberg apparently wanted the movie to be set during the London Blitz, and commissioned Bacher to create a city full of rubble and destruction for the animal stars to prowl through. Bacher traveled across London, photographing many of the city’s least cared-for areas, creating a composite vision of a ruined cityscape that he then adapted into art.
The result is moody and expressionistic, playing nicely into the darkness and grit that lurks around the edges of Dame Sir Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber’s famous musical. You can read more about Bacher’s work on the film, and see more of his production art, on his blog.