Following a string of disappointing movie-musical releases this year, Disney is aiming to resurrect the genre’s lustre with the theatrical premiere of West Side Story. In North America, the picture, which is a Steven Spielberg-directed reboot of the 1961 classic, will launch in 2,800 theatres today (and will not be available on any streaming services), and it is estimated to gross $10–$15 million in ticket sales over its opening weekend.
Come for Rita Moreno, but remain for the sake of the disenfranchised people.
When you consider how poorly the musical genre has performed at the box office this year, the debut of the $100 million film has a lot riding on it. Despite good reviews, In The Heights only grossed $11.5 million in its first weekend of release, while Dear Evan Hansen only pulled in $7.4 million in its first weekend of release (despite its awful reviews).
Moreover, let’s not even get into how the TikTok sound for Tick Tick Boom garnered more media attention than the film itself following its appearance in the top 10 of Netflix’s top 10 for only three days.
The financial prospects for West Side Story poses another existential dilemma for the entertainment industry: Can you build a blockbuster without using infinity stones?
After all, Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is set to be released next weekend, is predicted to gross approximately $150 million worldwide. This means that even if Peter Parker’s performance falls short of expectations, West Side Story will only account for around 10 percent of the total earnings from the new Marvel film’s box office.
However, Spielberg’s involvement in the re-imagined 10-time Oscar-winning film is a secret weapon. The films of the Ohio legend have collectively grossed nearly $10 billion in domestic box office receipts. And, despite the fact that the entire concept of the on-screen musical appears to be cursed at the moment, Spielberg remains optimistic about the upcoming Christmas season: More than one-third of his films have been released around the holidays.
Even if the Sharks vs. Jets brawl ends up in the same category as the rest of the year 2021’s underwhelming dance numbers, Disney will almost certainly continue to experiment with musicals. In a congested streaming market, the release of last year’s Hamilton on Disney+ boosted app downloads by 74 percent in July, according to Disney.