Despite rave reviews, Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” has
failed to gain traction with audiences at the box office.
In its first three weeks in cinemas, the adaption of Leonard
Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical has
captured just $36.6 million in global ticket sales. Its production
budget was around $100 million, not including marketing costs.
“Sounds like a write-off to me,” said Eric Handler, media and
entertainment analyst at MKM Partners. “The markets that have done
the best have been New York and L.A. The film wasn’t able to grab
middle America, and it didn’t seem to have that great of a
penetration into the Latino community.”
Inspired by Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” “West Side Story”
tells the tale of love-struck teenagers from two different social
classes in New York City during the 1950s. Tony, a young white boy
with ties to a gang called the Jets, and Maria, a young Puerto Rican
girl with ties to the Sharks gang. The Sharks and the Jets are in
the midst of a struggle for control of the Upper West Side of the
city, making Tony and Maria’s love forbidden.
The musical launched on Broadway in 1957 and has been revived a
dozen times in the decades since.
Spielberg’s new iteration, distributed by Disney’s 20th Century
Studios, generated largely positive reviews from critics, earning a
93% “certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was
praised for its choreography and singing performances. However, this
wasn’t enough to bring moviegoers to cinemas.
″[‘West Side Story’] was largely a victim of timing and an inability
to attract younger moviegoers,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at
BoxOffice.com. “Women over 35 are the drivers of most musicals. Not
only has that audience been the most cautious to return to public
social spaces like the movie theater during the pandemic, but
renewed concern created by omicron headlines seems to have played a
major role in doubling down on that hesitance for the time being.”
In its opening weekend, “West Side Story” garnered $10.5 million in
ticket sales, but the figure was more than halved during its second
weekend when the film tallied just $3 million.
″‘West Side Story’ was supposed to rebound this week,” said Jeff
Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations. “You can’t rebound when
you were never in the box office game to begin with.”
Many had hoped that strong word of mouth would help boost the film,
similar to what happened with 2017′s “The Greatest Showman.” But
“West Side Story” took in only $2.8 million in sales over the
The box office is an industry of diminishing returns, meaning each
week a film will make smaller and smaller amounts. At this pace,
“West Side Story” is not expected to turn a profit.
“And when you spend $100 million to do that, it will certainly cause
studios to reevaluate song and dance numbers going forward,” Bock
Movie musicals have struggled at the box office in recent years.
During the pandemic, “Dear Evan Hansen” scored less than $20 million
at the box office during its global theatrical run, and “In the
Heights,” which had a dual release in theaters and on HBO Max,
secured just $43.8 million in worldwide sales.
2019′s “Cats,” which replaced the iconic Broadway costumes with
digital fur, bombed at the box office, pulling in just $72.4 million
in ticket sales globally on a production budget of around $95
million, not including marketing costs.
In fact, the highest-grossing musical films in the last five years
were 2019′s “Frozen II,” which topped $1.4 billion globally and
2017′s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” which reached
$1.2 billion at the box office. The only other film in the musical
category to top $500 million globally was the animated feature from
Illumination called “Sing,” according to Comscore data.
“The musical genre, at least for now, seems to have fallen out of
favor for modern audiences,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media
analyst at Comscore.
Not musical, lesbian left wing mentally ill perverts.