That would be a good start for the film, starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler and directed by Steven Spielberg. But thanks to Spielberg and the stellar reviews that are causing a stir at the Oscars, “West Side Story” could even exceed those strong expectations this weekend.
Theaters and Hollywood will closely follow “West Side Story,” as the industry is trying to end 2021 on momentum after a year in which some major movies returned to theaters and others went straight to broadcast.
Typically, the box office proceeds go to big brands like Harry Potter and Marvel, rather than big names from the cast and crew. But with “West Side Story”, it is the director himself who can attract the audience.
The Spielberg factor and the Oscar rumor
Is your name enough to get people to buy a ticket? “West Side Story”, as well as theaters, could certainly benefit from the recognition of that name this weekend. Spielberg has already directed countless award-winning films, from “Saving Private Ryan” to “Lincoln,” and based on reviews so far, “West Side Story” could be next.
This kind of acclaim could lead to strong ticket sales this weekend, as well as for weeks to come, if it continues to generate buzz about the Oscars.
Are musicals still important?
So will “West Side Story” hit the high notes of “La La Land” or a misplaced note at the box office, like “Dear Evan Hansen” did? This weekend’s opening numbers will tell.
Jonathan Kuntz, professor of film at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and TV, noted that “musicals have been successful in many eras for many reasons,” but “from the 1970s to the present, the American musical film has had only intermittent success. “
“Part of this is due to the fragmentation of musical interests,” he said. “In the past, everyone of all ages could hum the tunes to ‘My Fair Lady,’ but today, there is no musical culture that unites the world in the same way.”
“West Side Story”, however, has one attribute that makes it stand out in the genre: it is one of the most beloved musicals ever made.
“It is based on one of the greatest Broadway musicals, with immortal songs, created by the talents of Bernstein & Sondheim, titans of form,” said Kuntz. “Furthermore … it deals with real issues and presents a vision of racial conflict and reconciliation that could resonate with modern audiences.”