Hailed as the first big modern spin on the story of “Romeo and Juliet,” the Broadway musical “West Side Story” has thrilled audiences with its original 1957 theatrical form by Stephen Sondheim and the 1961 musical film by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for United Artists. Last year, filmmaking legend Steven Spielberg began casting for a remake in a 20th Century Fox and Amblin Entertainment co-production for distribution by Disney. Our previous and only update on the movie thus far, from last year, saw Spielberg cast Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver”), with principal photography happening in summer of this year. Said filming period is now complete.
CNN reports that Steven Spielberg did finish the filming of “West Side Story” late last month, September 28, or close to 80 days since work began in June 17. With the central component of the production work done, Spielberg made to celebrate this completion by sharing some on-set photos on social media. These pictures were posted on the official 20th Century Fox Twitter page, along with a signed notice from the director announcing the end of filming, and his thanks to everyone involved in the production, which covered locations in New York and New Jersey.
One of the photos shared was of Steven Spielberg flanked by the lead stars of his “West Side Story” remake. Aside from Ansel “Tony” Elgort, there are also his Maria (Rachel Zegler), friend Bernardo (David Alvarez) and Maria’s friend Anita (Ariana DeBose). Photo number two then shows the combined casts of the Jets and Sharks street gangs of Upper West Side Manhattan, in their full 1950s fashion while the film crew stand at the back. Finally, the director does a selfie alongside Rita Moreno, who plays Valentina in the film. She herself is a proud “West Side” veteran, having played Anita in the 1961 film.
In Steven Spielberg’s accompanying note, he called the making of the new “West Side Story” musical film an unprecedented journey and a surprise encounter with one of the “greatest musicals” in the world. “My brilliantly talented, fiercely committed, generous and apparently inexhaustible cast and crew of hundreds have given our film everything they’ve got,” writes the filmmaker, “and already I can say that the film we’ll be releasing on December 18, 2020 owes everything to them, as does its immensely grateful director.” Spielberg also expressed gratitude for New York City and its “grand, multicultural, multifaceted” spirit, the very background that made “West Side Story” real.
Image courtesy of Slash Film