Steven Spielberg has wanted to do ‘West Side Story’ since he was 10

west side story

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story hit theaters on Friday. Despite being a critical darling with an impressive 93% positive on the Tomatometer it’s set to have a tough time at the box office as its first domestic weekend saw it underperform with a haul of just $10.5 million.

The good news is that this makes it the number one movie for the week. The bad news is that it’s also very underwhelming, and many have concluded this will be a rare flop for the famed director.

That’ll sting, as West Side Story has been a career-long ambition for Spielberg. In a new interview with Empire, he explained that he’s been a fan for decades. When asked why it took him so long to make a musical, he said:

You know, I’ve asked that question to myself many, many times, because it was always West Side Story I wanted to do. Since I was 10 and listened to the original Broadway cast album, right up ’til I saw the ’61 movie – the brilliant, inimitable classic by Robert Wise and Jerry Robbins – and right through the stage productions I’ve seen over the years, it’s just been my favorite musical, and the music has been in my life, all my life.”

west side story

Spielberg went on to explain that he’s made a point of sharing his love for the movie with his children, underlined his respect for the source material, and talked through the ways he’s tweaked the story to make it relevant for a contemporary audience.

All that means that its apparent box office failure will be a personal disappointment for him. Industry analysts have already started theorizing on why this failed to launch. Most obvious is that audiences may be skittish about theaters due to the highly infectious Omicron COVID variant dominating the news, though that doesn’t appear to have affected demand for this week’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The proof will be in the pudding, though I suspect Hamilton being a big hit for Disney Plus may mean this musical will debut there sooner than originally planned.

West Side Story is now in theaters.