West Side Story has brought to the big screen a new adaptation of the original, beloved stage musical West Side Story. The musical is being adapted for the big screen 64 years after its debut on Broadway and 60 years after its original film version. West Side Story took the top place on the weekend box office rankings, beating out Disney Animation’s Encanto.
West Side Story, directed by Steven Spielberg, has a $10.5 million opening weekend in 2,800 cinemas. Estimates for the first weekend were as high as $15 million higher, according to some tracking agencies.
West Side Story premiered to an even more disappointing $4.4 million in 37 material markets, bringing in a global opening of $14.9 million, significantly below Disney’s prediction of $25 million. According to box office observers, the picture has yet to find an audience in Latin America or Asia. This puts a huge strain on Europe, where the omicron variant is delaying the return of the box office.
According to PostTrak, West Side Story did best in big cities and with audiences over 55. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 94 percent approval rating. The hope now is that positive reviews will help West Side Story gain traction over the holiday season and Oscar season. Otherwise, it may suffer significant losses.
Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story was originally set to open in 2020 but changed its release date due to scheduling conflicts. The film is the filmmaker’s first musical and was a passionate endeavor for him. Tony and Maria, played by Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, are star-crossed lovers. The film also stars Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, and Rita Moreno.
Other smart choices include casting non-binary actor Iris Menas as Anybodys, a performance that recalls Linda Manz’s brilliant turn in The Wanderers, and bringing everything full circle by repaying the inspirational debt that Philip Kaufman’s 1979 cult classic owed to the Wise/Robbins West Side Story.
The West Side Story Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released in both digital and print formats and will include 21 songs from the film.