When it comes to the world of movie musicals, there are few as beloved or memorable as West Side Story. That 1961 film – which starred Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer – was one of the most successful films of that year and went on to win 10 Oscars, including Best Picture.
So the fact that, just a few short months ago, iconic filmmaker Steven Spielberg expressed interest in remaking the film was nothing short of a surprise. Reports claimed that Fox was willing to finance the film, despite its undeniable classic status, with Spielberg in the director’s chair. However, little clarification followed the news, but now Spielberg has mentioned the proposed West Side Story remake.
The filmmaker was recently asked by Good Morning America (via The Playlist) about the project while promoting The Hundred-Foot Journey along with fellow producer Oprah Winfrey. Here’s what he had to say:
“Well, you know something, West Side Story is one of my favorite Broadway musicals and one of the greatest pieces of musical literature, my goodness, one of the greatest scores and [it has] some of the greatest lyrics ever written for a musical, so just let me put it this way: it’s on my mind.”
Spielberg is certainly not alone in his respect and affection for the musical, though his failure to mention the original film might indicate that he has a unique take on the material. The director has never been known to simply imitate the work of others; so any West Side Story film he’d make would likely feature an entirely different look and feel from the original film.
The fact that he’s still apparently mulling it over is interesting news too, as it doesn’t sound like the film is in active development just yet. Rather, Spielberg may just be putting the idea out there and gauging the public’s response before committing to the project, which may be a good idea considering musicals’ spotty track record and the original film’s existing fanbase.
While animated musicals like Frozen and The Lorax continue to perform at the box office, their live-action counterparts have been decidedly hit-and-miss lately. Both Rock of Ages and Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys are based on hit stage productions, and both were regarded as critical and financial disappointments. While the former’s 1980s reverence inherently lends itself to an over-the-top, silly production, the latter had an Oscar-winning filmmaker and serious real life subject matter behind it but still couldn’t find an audience.
There’s every reason to think that the widespread recognizability of West Side Story could work in Spielberg’s favor, should the project take place (Eastwood’s long-discussed and musically-themed A Star Is Born remake still hasn’t seen the light of day, after all). And if there’s anyone who can turn a beloved musical like West Side Story into the next Les Miserables – in terms of box office take, critical acclaim and award wins – it’s likely Spielberg.
Do you think a Spielberg-helmed West Side Story remake is a good idea, or is this one classic that should be left untouched? Sound off in the comments section below.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for updates on the proposed West Side Story remake.
Source: Good Morning America (via The Playlist)