West Side Story (2021 film)
West Side Story is an upcoming American romantic musical drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner. The film is the second feature-length adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, which is based loosely on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It stars Rachel Zegler (in her feature film debut) and Ansel Elgort, with Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera, Corey Stoll and Brian d'Arcy James. Rita Moreno, who appeared in the 1961 film, has a supporting role and is an executive producer. Choreography is by Justin Peck.
|West Side Story|
|Directed by||Steven Spielberg|
|Screenplay by||Tony Kushner|
|Music by||Leonard Bernstein (original score)|
David Newman (score adaptation)
Stephen Sondheim (lyrics)
|Distributed by||20th Century Studios|
The film started development in 2014 by 20th Century Fox, and Kushner was writing the screenplay by 2017. In January 2018, Spielberg was hired, and casting began by September 2018. Filming began in July 2019 and wrapped up two months later. Shooting occurred in New York and New Jersey.
Teenagers Tony and María, despite having affiliations with rival street gangs, the Jets and Sharks, fall in love in 1950s New York City.
- Rachel Zegler as María Vasquez
- Ansel Elgort as Tony
- Ariana DeBose as Anita
- David Alvarez as Bernardo Vasquez
- Mike Faist as Riff
- Josh Andrés Rivera as Chino
- Corey Stoll as Police Lieutenant Schrank
- Brian d'Arcy James as Police Sergeant Krupke
- Rita Moreno as Valentina
- Ana Isabelle as Rosalia
- Curtiss Cook as Abe
- Kevin Csolak as Diesel
- Ezra Menas as Anybodys
- Ben Cook as Mouthpiece
- Sean Harrison Jones as Action
- Patrick Higgins as Baby John
- Paloma Garcia-Lee as Graziella
- Maddie Ziegler as Velma
- Julius Anthony Rubio as Quique
- Ricardo Zayas as Chago
- Sebastian Serra as Braulio
- Carlos Sánchez Falú as Pipo
Two of the Jets from the 1961 film, Harvey Evans, who portrayed Mouthpiece, and Bert Michaels, who played Snowboy, appear as extras.
In March 2014, Steven Spielberg first expressed interest in directing an adaptation of West Side Story. This prompted 20th Century Fox to acquire the rights to the project. Tony Kushner, who previously worked with Spielberg on 2005's Munich and 2012's Lincoln, revealed in a July 2017 interview that he was writing the screenplay for the film, stating he would be leaving the musical numbers intact, and that the story would be more similar to the original stage musical than to the 1961 film. In a 2020 interview, Spielberg told Vanity Fair: "West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I... fell completely in love with it as a kid."
In January 2018, it was announced that Spielberg would likely direct the film following completion of filming for a fifth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. This was followed a few days later with an open casting call issued for the characters María, Tony, Anita and Bernardo. Additional open casting calls were hosted in New York City in April, and in Orlando, Florida in May. In July, the fifth Indiana Jones film was pushed back, allowing Spielberg to begin pre-production on West Side Story.
Justin Peck was hired to choreograph the film in September 2018, with Ansel Elgort cast in the film as Tony. In November, Eiza González emerged as a contender for the role of Anita. Rita Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, plays Valentina and also serves as an executive producer for the film. In January 2019, newcomer Rachel Zegler was cast in the lead role of María, with Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Josh Andrés Rivera also cast as Anita, Bernardo, and Chino, respectively. In March 2019, Corey Stoll and Brian d'Arcy James joined the cast. A month later, the rest of the ensemble comprising the Jets and Sharks factions was announced.
Filming took place in Harlem and other Manhattan locations and in Flatlands, Brooklyn in New York City in July 2019. There were ten days of shooting in Paterson, New Jersey, where an outdoor set was built, in August 2019. Filming also took place in Newark and other parts of Essex County, New Jersey. It wrapped on September 27, 2019.
Composer David Newman arranged and adapted Bernstein's original score for the film. Gustavo Dudamel conducted the New York Philharmonic during the film's recording sessions, with Jeanine Tesori serving as vocal coach. The soundtrack album will be released by Hollywood Records.
West Side Story was initially scheduled to be released in the United States on December 18, 2020 by 20th Century Studios. In September 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parent company Disney delayed the release date to December 10, 2021, which will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the release of the original 1961 film. The film will have an exclusive 45-day theatrical run.
On April 25, 2021, during the 93rd Academy Awards telecast, DeBose introduced the film's teaser trailer, and Moreno later presented the Academy Award for Best Picture, commemorating the 1961 film's release and awards wins. The film's official trailer premiered on September 15, 2021 on ABC's Good Morning America.
Differences among film and stage versionsEdit
The film's screenplay is expected to hew more closely to the Broadway script than to the 1961 film adaptation written by Ernest Lehman. Moreno, who played Anita in the 1961 film, plays Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the original character Doc, who serves as a mentor to the teenage characters. Siblings María and Bernardo are given a surname: Vasquez.
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