west side story release date

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Steven Spielberg finally gets to make a musical with West Side Story, a new adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. West Side Story will arrive this December, but for now, here’s everything you need to know about the movie in advance, including the release date, cast and crew, and more.

West Side Story Release Date and Where You Can Watch It

West Side Story is headed to theaters on December 10, 2021. It was originally due out last December, but the pandemic got in the way. Appropriately enough, delaying the release by one year will have this West Side Story arriving to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the release of the original 1961 film. As of now, West Side Story will be exclusive to theaters.

What is West Side Story?

West Side Story is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, loosely inspired by Romeo and Juliet. The musical was previously adapted to film in 1961. That adaptation remains widely acclaimed, and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, including Best Picture – which means it’s a tough act for Steven Spielberg to follow. But since he’s one of our best living directors, he’ll probably be fine. One key difference between this adaptation and the 1961 film is that Spielberg pushed to make sure performers with Hispanic backgrounds played Hispanic characters, and, per Vanity Fair, the filmmaker “estimates that 20 of the 33 Puerto Rican characters are specifically Puerto Rican or of Puerto Rican descent.”

“They brought themselves, and everything they believe and everything about them—they brought that to the work,” Spielberg said. “And there was so much interaction between the cast wanting to be able to commit to the Puerto Rican experience. They all represent, I think, a diversity, both within the Puerto Rican, Nuyorican community as well as the broader Latinx community. And they took that seriously.”

West Side Story Synopsis

West Side Story “tells the classic tale of fierce rivalries and young love in 1957 New York City.” The young lovers are Tony and Maria, who fall for each other despite having connections to feuding street gangs The Jets and The Sharks. Maria is “part of the wave of Puerto Rican migrants who traded one island for another when they came to New York seeking a new life in the post–World War II economic boom. Her streetwise Casanova is Tony…who once led a gang of local toughs known as the Jets, but has since outgrown them. Tony’s old friends are engaged in an escalating battle for control of the neighborhood against Puerto Rican rivals who call themselves the Sharks, led by Maria’s brother Bernardo.”

West Side Story Director, Crew, and More

West Side Story is directed by a young up-and-comer named Steven Spielberg. That kid’s going places, let me tell you. Tony Kushner, who has worked with Spielberg on Munich and Lincoln, wrote the script. Kushner is also an executive producer. Justin Peck choreographed the musical numbers in the film while Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel handled the recording of the score, which was arranged by composer and conductor David Newman. Jeanine Tesori supervised the cast on vocals while Matt Sullivan served as executive music producer for the film. Spielberg produces along with Kristie Macosko Krieger and Kevin McCollum.

West Side Story Cast

West Side Story stars Ansel Elgort* as Tony; Rachel Zegler as Maria; Ariana DeBose as Anita; David Alvarez as Bernardo; Mike Faist as Riff; Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino; Ana Isabelle as Rosalía; Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank; Brian d’Arcy James as Officer Krupke; and Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for playing Anita in the 1961 movie, as Valentina, who owns the corner store in which Tony works.

*It’s worth noting that in 2020, a woman accused Elgort of sexual misconduct in 2014 when she was 17 and he was 20. Elgort denied the allegation and said the relationship was brief and consensual. Since then there’s been next to no coverage of the story, but that might change the closer the film gets to release.

West Side Story Trailer

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