New York Film Locations

West Side Story Remake

19 June 2019

Production begins this week on the remake of West Side Story.

The romantic musical film is being directed by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, and stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler. It will serve as a remake of the 1961 film adaptation directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, and is scheduled to be released on December 18, 2020, by 20th Century Fox and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Current Poster for West Side Story Remake

Steven Spielberg first expressed interest in directing a remake of West Side Story in March 2014. This prompted 20th Century Fox to acquire the rights to the project. Tony Kushner, who previously worked with Spielberg on 2005's Munich and 2012's Lincoln, revealed in a July 2017 interview he was writing the screenplay for the film, stating he would be leaving the musical numbers intact, and that the story would be more similar to the original musical than to the 1961 film.

In January 2018, it was announced that Spielberg would likely direct the film following completion of filming for a fifth instalment of the Indiana Jones franchise. This was followed a few days later with an open casting call issued for the characters Maria, Tony, Anita and Bernardo. Additional open casting calls were hosted in New York City in April, and in Orlando, Florida in May. In July, the fifth Indiana Jones film was pushed back, allowing Spielberg to begin pre-production on West Side Story.

Cast for West Side Story

Justin Peck was hired to choreograph the film in September 2018, with Ansel Elgort cast in the film as Tony. In November, Eiza González emerged as a contender for the role of Anita. Rita Moreno was cast as Valentina, a reworked version of the character Doc. In January 2019, newcomer Rachel Zegler was cast in the lead role of Maria, with Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, and Josh Andrés Rivera also cast as Anita, Bernardo, and Chino, respectively. In March 2019, Corey Stoll and Brian d'Arcy James joined the cast. A month later, the rest of the ensemble comprising the Jets and Sharks factions was announced.

Composer David Newman is set to arrange and adapt Bernstein's original score for the film. Gustavo Dudamel, music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has been engaged to conduct the orchestra during the film's recording sessions, with Jeanine Tesori to serve as vocal coach.

The original film was shot in New York.


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