By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business
“West Side Story” had little to sing about this weekend.
20th Century Studios’ remake of the 1961 classic musical brought in an estimated $10.5 million for its opening in North America this weekend.
This total was below expectations, which projected the film to make closer to $15 million in its debut weekend.
The total is a bit surprising considering that the film had a lot working in its favor. For starters, it is directed by Steven Spielberg, one of the most recognizable and blockbuster directors in history. His name alone appeared to not be enough to get people to buy a ticket.
Great reviews also weren’t enough. The film, which has a stellar 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes, garnered critical acclaim as well as early Oscar buzz. Yet, despite getting an “A” CinemaScore from those who saw it, the box office returns are lackluster at best.
The film could have some legs in theaters over the next few weeks as the holidays kick in and more families have time to hit the theater, but so far the movie has failed to find an audience. It also won’t be easy to get attention since “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” potentially one of the biggest films of the year, opens next weekend.
“West Side Story” could have faltered this weekend due to myriad factors. There may have been concerns over coronavirus variants, older audiences have been somewhat reluctant to return to theaters compared to younger ticket buyers, and musicals have struggled at the box office of late.
Recent film adaptations of Broadway musicals, such as “In The Heights,” “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Cats,” all disappointed at the box office, with each bringing in less than $30 million in domestic ticket sales, according to Comscore. And while musicals have also experienced some big hits, including “La La Land,” “The Greatest Showman” and “Mamma Mia!,” it appears “West Side Story” has so far fallen in the former category.
For theaters, the miss of “West Side Story” this weekend is a tough pill to swallow, but a hero is on the way.
“No Way Home” opens next week, and the latest from from Spider-Man and Marvel could end 2021 on a high note for theaters attempting to rebound amid the pandemic.
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