Spielberg ‘West Side Story’ debuts weakly with $10.5M

NEW YORK (AP) – Despite critical acclaim and two years’ notice, the lavish revival of Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” made little noise at the box office, debuting with $ 10.5 million in sales of tickets, according to study estimates on Sunday. result for a film industry struggling to regain its finger-snapping rhythm.

A dazzling widescreen adaptation and Spielberg’s first musical, “West Side Story” was one of the most anticipated titles of the year. With a screenplay by Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno returning to their groundbreaking film 60 years later, the $ 100 million “West Side Story” epitomizes a large-scale, prestigious film that Hollywood no longer produces frequently. It hit theaters to a wave of glowing reviews and expectations that she will be able to play a starring role at the March Academy Awards..

But “West Side Story” faced a challenging market for both adult-led releases and musicals. Audiences have consistently returned to multiplexes in the second year of the pandemic, but older moviegoers, who made up the bulk of ticket buyers for Spielberg’s latest, have been among the slowest to return.

Musicals have also had trouble catching up in theaters. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “In the Heights” Released with $ 11 Million in June but the Warner Bros. release was simulcast on HBO Max. The criticized Universal’s “Dear Evan Hansen” debuted with $ 7.4 million in September.

But this was Spielberg. If anyone could revive the cinema, he thought, it was him. Surely one of the film’s dazzling craftsmen, a synonymous box office director, could spark a more complete renaissance in theaters. “West Side Story” is also among the most beloved musicals. The 1961 film, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, made $ 43.7 million (or about $ 400 million adjusted for inflation) and won 10 Oscars, including best picture.

“West Side Story” can still be expected to play out well in the lucrative vacation corridor, during which younger movies like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (next weekend is expected to become the first pandemic release that debuts with $ 100 million or more domestically) and “Sing 2” will likely be the main draws. Film executives hope the sprawling COVID-19 omicron variant won’t delay the box office just as Hollywood approaches its most profitable period.

But the quiet reception of “West Side Story” will worry the industry. Hopes were long pinned on Spielberg, with his spectacular song and dance, to regain some of the movie charm. Instead, little right now outside of Marvel releases is finding large audiences. Many viewers just haven’t come back yet..

“Drawing viewers into adult dramas in bulk right now seems like a pretty heavy push,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at data firm Comscore. “That will decrease over time, but it is concerning for filmmakers and studios.”

“But I don’t think this is the final act of ‘West Side Story,'” Dergarabedian added. “A lot of people dismissed ‘The Greatest Showman'”.

That 2017 release launched with a modest $ 8.8 million opening weekend before enjoying a rare and long run that made it, at $ 435 million worldwide, one of the world’s most popular live-action musicals. box office in history. However, during the pandemic, movies have quickly faded onto the multiplex and often moved more quickly toward streaming or home release.

Starring newcomer Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort as Maria and Tony, “West Side Story” grossed $ 4.4 million in 37 overseas territories. Because the film includes a transgender character, it was banned in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait.

David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment, called the opening “soft.”

“If ‘West Side Story’ is to be profitable, it will need to connect internationally and nationally,” Gross said in an email. “So far, the first European openings have been good, but this is going to be a challenge with the conditions for going to the cinema as difficult as they are.”

Spielberg’s movie was a long time coming. Its launch was delayed a year due to the pandemic. It was developed at 20th Century Fox, which was acquired by the Walt Disney Co. shortly before production began. Days before its premiere at Lincoln Center, the musical’s revered lyricist Stephen Sondheim died at the age of 91.

Second place for the weekend went to Disney’s lively “Charm,” which held strong into its third week, dropping just 27% from the previous weekend. He raised $ 9.6 from Friday to Sunday, bringing his cumulative total to $ 71.3 million domestically and $ 80.5 million internationally.

The only other broad release of the weekend, STX Films’ college football drama “National Champions,” went almost unnoticed, grossing $ 300,000 in 1,197 theaters.

Estimated ticket sales Friday through Sunday at theaters in the US and Canada, according to Comscore. Final national figures will be released on Monday.

1. “West Side Story,” $ 10.5 million.

2. “Charm,” $ 9.4 million.

3. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” $ 7.1 million.

4. “House of Gucci,” $ 4.1 million.

5. “Eternals,” $ 3.1 million.

6. “Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City,” $ 1.7 million.

7. “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” $ 1.3 million.

8. “Christmas With the Chosen,” $ 1.3 million.

9. “Dune,” $ 857,000.

10. “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” $ 850,000.


Follow AP film writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP


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