Originally slated to snap its way into theaters last December, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story will finally debut this year, and the Oscars just gave us our first look. The surprisingly quiet teaser, which aired after Daniel Kaluuya won his first Oscar for Best Support Actor for Judas And the Black Messiah, relies on a modern trailer trope of a slowed-down version of “Somewhere (A Place For Us) plays over a montage of greasers grabbing chainlink fences. That is to say, it looks like a West Side Story remake.
Spielberg’s West Side Story is based on the Broadway musical by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, and stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria. A re-telling of Romeo And Juliet, the movie brings the story to 1950s New York, with rival street gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, standing in for the Capulets and the Montagues. At first glance, the movie doesn’t look that different from Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s 1961 adaptation, which won 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. Still, this would be Spielberg’s first musical ever, so that’s something.
Like many others over the last year, the movie was delayed indefinitely due to the pandemic, with 20th Century Fox delaying the movie until theaters could reopen instead of dumping it on Disney+. However, West Side Story has other hurdles to overcome, including the sexual assault allegations made against its star Elgort. In June 2020, a female Twitter user accused Elgort of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 and he was 20. The actor denied the charge and called their encounter “brief, legal, and entirely consensual.”
West Side Story opens on December 10th, 2021.