Filming has begun on Steven Spielberg's West Side Story, as evidenced by the release of the first-look cast image. The legendary director first expressed his interest in bringing the classic musical back to the big screen in 2014, but it wasn't until last year that it became clear just how serious he is about the whole thing. He's since assembled a cast composed primarily of newcomers, along with bigger names like Ansel Elgort, Corey Stoll, Brian D'Arcy James, and West Side Story (1961) star Rita Moreno.
Written by Spielberg's Munich and Lincoln writer Tony Kushner, the new West Side Story is adapted from the 1957 stage musical, rather than the 1961 film. The latter took home ten Oscars at the 1962 Academy Awards, including the prizes for Best Picture and Director, in addition to a win for Moreno's leading performance as Anita. With that sort of legacy, it's little wonder that Disney and Fox have scheduled Spielberg's version to reach theaters in the heart of next year's awards season. Based on the caliber of the movie's cast and crew, however, it's a smart move on the studios' part.
Spielberg's production company Amblin confirmed West Side Story's production team today, now that shooting is officially underway. They also released the first photo of the main cast, as you can see in the space below.
Among those pictured here are the members of the two rival gangs (The Jets and Sharks) that battle one another for dominance in the film's historical Manhattan setting. At the center of it all (literally, in this photo) is Elgort's Tony, the former Jets member who falls in love with Maria (Rachel Zegler), the sister of The Shark's leader, Bernardo (David Alvarez). Also featured here, from left to right, are The Jets' members Anybodys (Ezra Menas), Mouthpiece (Ben Cook), Action (Sean Harrison Jones), their leader Riff (Mike Faist), and Baby John (Patrick Higgins). Meanwhile, Bernardo is flanked by his fellow Sharks Quique (Julius Anthony Rubio), Chago (Ricardo Zayas), Chino (Josh Andrés Rivera), Braulio (Sebastian Serra), and Pipo (Carlos Sánchez Falú).
Judging by the first-look image, West Side Story will be as handsome-looking as one would expect a Spielberg adaptation of the iconic musical to be. The story's 1957 backdrop is being brought to life by the director's Bridge of Spies and Ready Player One production designer Adam Stockhausen, so it should ultimately be just as convincing and authentic as the historical scenery from Spielberg's recent period dramas. And while this will be the filmmaker's first time calling the shots on a movie musical, he's never been one to back down from a technical challenge, and has briefly tapped into his sense of Broadway showmanship in the past (most notably, in the "Anything Goes" opening to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom). Suffice it to say, it'll be exciting to see what he's cooked up by the time West Side Story is ready to hit theaters in 2020.
- West Side Story (2020) release date: Dec 18, 2020