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“West Side Story” Disappoints At Box Office With $10 Million Debut

By Chinelo Eze
13 December 2021   |   2:06 pm
The remake of Steven Spielberg’s classic musical “West Side Story’’ fell flat in its box office debut. Selling a few tickets in the initial week “WestSide Story” picked up $10.5 million from 2,820 theatres on its release on the 10th of December. Disney and 20th Century Studios spent $100 million to renew the Shakespearean love…

The remake of Steven Spielberg’s classic musical “West Side Story’’ fell flat in its box office debut. Selling a few tickets in the initial week “WestSide Story” picked up $10.5 million from 2,820 theatres on its release on the 10th of December. Disney and 20th Century Studios spent $100 million to renew the Shakespearean love story in recent times and stand to lose millions, unless “West Side Story” pulls through at the box office through the holidays when the audiences come out and Oscar seasons.

David A. Gross, who runs the film consulting firm, Franchise Entertainment Research, said “If ‘West Side Story’ is going to be profitable, it will need to connect internationally as well domestically,” Gross says. So far, international audiences haven’t been particularly receptive to “West Side Story.” The film has generated $4.4 million from 37 overseas markets, bringing its global tally to $14.9 million.

Beginning with a bad start, for one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year and one that opened exclusively in theatres, it worries critics and theatre operators why “West Side Story” is not doing as expected. “In the past, we’ve seen musicals connect with critics and audiences and go on a run,” says Gross, in reference to “Chicago.”

“West Side Story” earned more than Universal’s recent “Dear Evan Hansen” another adaptation, which premiered at $7.4 million, but not exactly a high bar considering “Dear Evan Hansen” was skewered by critics. And, “In the Heights” and “Dear Evan Hansen” cost far less to make than “West Side Story.” David Gross predicts that “West Side Story” songs will not return to radio’s top 10 charts and inspire repeat viewings unlike films like “The Greatest Showman.”

“West Side Story” based on the 1957 Broadway musical, was written by Tony Kushner featuring mostly upcoming stars in Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, who play lovers Tony and Maria. Their romance fuels street gangs rivalry with the white Sharks and the Puerto Rican Jets. The cast also includes David Alvarez as Bernardo, Mike Faist as Riff, Ariana DeBose as Anita, and Rita Moreno as Valentina, which was a newly created role.

“West Side Story” is not expected to replace “The Greatest Showman” staying power because the demography of older audiences has not returned to the film. “West Side Story” had a strong turnout on premium large formats (PLF), with IMAX aiding the $1 million in domestic ticket sales. Sadly, it will lose most of its placement on PLF screens when “Spider-Man: No Way Home” debuts next weekend.

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