Steven Spielberg Still Interested in ‘West Side Story’ Remake

Published 9 months ago by

steven spielberg montezuma cortes film Steven Spielberg Still Interested in West Side Story Remake

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.

west side story Steven Spielberg Still Interested in West Side Story Remake

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)

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  1. I’m not against this, but I’d rather he did an original musical. When was the last one? That wasnt based on a stage musical or some other existing property. maybe there has been one i dont recall any for ages. Westerns and Biblical epics seem to be making a comeback(?) Let’s have musicals too!

  2. No need to worry here. Despite a few misfires over the years – Lincoln sent me to sleep – Steven will seen sense and not do this remake.

    • You were bored by “Lincoln”??? I found it a wonderful film…and not just because of Day Lewis’s spot-on make-up and brilliant acting. I just thought the whole production was amazing.

      As for “West Side Story”, although it’s not one of my favorites, I am curious if Spielberg can reinvigorate it. We shall see…

      • It’d be interesting to see if he does without having to modernise it too much to draw in the younger crowd. It’s basically an all ages story (as is the story that West Side Story was based on) so lets hope he manages to capture that spirit and shake off the negative comments that the word “musical” usually receives initially (and which Les Mis managed to overcome).

  3. I’m hoping this sees the light of day, with him directing. In fact, when the release dates for his two next projects were announced, I was hoping for West Side Story and Montezuma.

  4. If his intention is to bring the musical to the screen in a more honest and true-to-the-original way, then I’m all for it.

    If he intends on using people like Johnny Depp and Meryl Streep as “singers”, then I’m all against.

    My main issues with the film version of WSS is that they chose dubbed actors for the main roles, and just how much they had to change/cut to make it “a better film”.

    Use all people who actually COULD sing/dance this very difficult piece on stage, and restore the story closer to its original form, and I’ll be happier.

    As good an actress as Natalie Woods was, she wasn’t singing, and it showed.
    It makes me cringe every time I watch the movie version of WSS, which still remains one of my favourite stage shows.

    • If he actually films a remake, Spielberg should base the remake off the 2009 Broadway revival, find actors from Central and South America to play Maria, Bernardo, Chino, and the rest of the Sharks and have some dialogue and songs like I Feel Pretty and A Boy Like That (America no way!) translated into Spanish, under the Puerto Rican dialect. The actress portraying Anita should be an American born Puerto Rican like Rita Moreno. The 1961 film lacks the immigrant feel as the cultural differences between the Jets and the Sharks is fueling factor behind the gang violence. Arthur Laurents corrected that in the 2009 Broadway revival and created an authentic feel that enabled the show to connect the musical to a wider audience. The remake will not match the 10 Oscars and acclaim the 1961 film experienced, but will give the fans something “fresh” and introduce the musical to a whole new generation.


    Nothing against Spielberg, he’s a genius filmmaker, no doubt about that. But West Side Story is, in my opinion, UNTOUCHABLE! A MASTERPIECE!

    I’m not a hater of remakes in general, but they’re SO cliché these days. And updating remakes(if WSS were to be updated)doesn’t always justify it. We really don’t need to see the Jets and the Sharks carrying cellphones along with their switchblades or Tony and Maria facebooking each other.

    C’mon, Hollywood…if you guys wanna remake something, then remake movies that had potential but failed the first time around. Leave the classics alone!

    • Thank you for an excellent post, Ricardo, and for saying things that I wish I could say. The reason that there have been so many re-makes and/or sequels of movies these days is because Hollywood has run out of creative ideas.

      I agree with you wholeheartedly about a re-make of West Side Story, by anybody, regardless of who it may be, not doing this already great classic film any justice. The film West Side Story is already in a special class by itself, and the fact that it won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture during the year that it came out, is very indicative of its overall success. A re-make of West Side Story, by anybody, would simply cut the heart and soul right out of it.

      Ever heard the expression “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? That applies here…perfectly.

  6. If he brings it up to date the gangs will be using AK-47′s and Glocks instead of knives

    • Didn’t Baz Luhrmann already do that in the mid 90s though?

    • If the film West Side Story were brought up to date and re-made…by anybody, not only would the gangs be using AK-47′s and Glock 21′s, but the fight scenes would be much bloodier, the overall language much, much “bluer”, the hatred between the gangs, as well as the cops’ hatred of the gangs would be even more overt, and the romance scenes between Tony and Maria, as well as between Anita and Bernardo would be much steamier and more sexually explicit than they were in the 1961 film.

      • That’s not going to happen. Spielberg is not going to mess around with the choreography.

        • Frankly, I don’t believe for ONE minute that Steve Spielberg (or ANYBODY, for that matter) could be trusted NOT to mess with the choreography of a film like West Side Story. Again….I say…leave well enough alone. The film West Side Story is already especially fantastic as it is! if it ain’t broke (and it ain’t!), don’t fix it! Thanks.

  7. Wouldn’t it be great if Mr Spielberg got back to doing what he use-to do best – and make great fantasy films !
    MARVEL should try bringing him in on a future project !
    That would be amazing.

  8. If there is a remake, it should be based on the 2009 Broadway revival script.

    • “If there is a remake, it should be based on the 2009 Broadway revival script.”

      Which wasn’t so hot, either.

  9. I would be interested to see a Spielberg interpretation of WSS because he may not have to cast big name stars–he could cast real singers. The 1961 movie is still fabulous in some respects but I don’t enjoy the two leads in it as much as I did long ago. I LOVE the dancing in that movie and I re-watch the dance sequences whenever I need a “WSS fix.” “America” and the “Quintet” must be included in my “fix.” The two leads are best in the Finale, where their strongest performances are not sung but spoken. If Spielberg can do a different take on the musical with all-professional singers as well as dancers, I would be very interested to see it.