New York, 2021-12-12 12:46:40. West Side Story debuted poorly at US$10.5 million
NEW YORK – Despite two years of critical acclaim and anticipation, Steven Spielberg’s lavish revival of “West Side Story” made little noise at the box office, debuting with $10.5 million in ticket sales, the studio estimated Sunday. – which is troubling as the film industry is struggling to regain its fingertips.
A brilliant widescreen show and Spielberg’s first musical, “West Side Story” was one of the most eagerly awaited titles of the year. With screenplay Tony Kushner and Rita Moreno making a comeback 60 years later, the $100 million “West Side Story” epitomizes a blockbuster movie that Hollywood doesn’t make much of anymore. He hit theaters with a flurry of glowing reviews and expectations that he could star in the Oscars in March.
But “West Side Story” has faced a challenging market for adult-oriented versions and musicals. Audiences steadily 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 tickets, were among the slowest to return.
The music business has also struggled to make it into theaters. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights released $11 million in June, but Warner Bros. It was simultaneously broadcast on HBO Max. Universal’s critically acclaimed “Dear Evan Hanson,” grossed $7.4 million, debuted in September.
But that was Spielberg. The thinking went, if anyone could rekindle the cinema, it would be him. Sure enough, one of the films’ dazzling craftsmen, a director synonymous with the box office, could spark a fuller revival in theaters. West Side Story is also among the most beloved musicals. The 1961 film, directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise, grossed $43.7 million (or about $400 million adjusted for inflation) and won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture.
“West Side Story” is still expected to do well by the lucrative holiday aisle, with younger films like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Sing 2” likely to be the most draws. Movie executives are hopeful that the spread of the omicron version of COVID-19 won’t make a box office comeback quite as Hollywood approaches its highest-grossing period.
But West Side Story’s muted reception will alarm the industry. Spielberg, with his incredible song and dance, has always had hopes for getting some mojo back. Instead, few at the moment outside of Marvel releases are finding large audiences. Many moviegoers simply did not return yet.
“West Side Story,” starring newcomer Rachel Ziegler and Ansel Elgort as Maria and Tony, has grossed $4.4 million in 37 overseas territories. Because the film includes a transgender character, it has been banned in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
Described by David A. Gross, who runs film consultancy Franchise Entertainment, described the opening as “soft.”
“If West Side Story is going to make money, it will need to connect internationally and locally,” Gross said in an email. “So far, the first European openings have been good, but this is going to be a challenge with tough cinematic conditions as it is.”
The Spielberg movie has been coming for a long time. Its release has been delayed by a year due to the pandemic. It was developed at 20th Century Fox, which was acquired by Walt Disney shortly before production began. Days before the premiere of Lincoln Center, esteemed songwriter Stephen Sondheim has passed away at the age of 91.
Second place on the weekend went to Disney’s animated movie “Encanto,” which held strong in its third week, down just 27% from the previous weekend. It made $9.6 from Friday through Sunday, bringing its cumulative total to $71.3 million domestically and $80.5 million internationally.
The only other wide release released this weekend — STX Films’ college football drama “National Heroes” — went largely unnoticed, grossing $300,000 in 1,197 theaters.
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