Steven Spielberg’s 2021 reboot of a 1961 musical classic is…by definition, a flop. While I personally enjoyed this new adaptation, even I cannot deny that it was a disaster financially. To give you perspective, West Side Story had a budget of $100 million. It has only made $57.7 million at the box office. This is bad…definitely. Which, again; sucks because I really enjoyed it. And I think a lot of critics did. You can read my review here.

So, I wanted to ask myself why this flopped. Keep in mind, this is just my opinion. This is not a researched article – it’s just my own thoughts and guestimations as to why West Side Story is a box office flop.

Maybe No One Was Interested?

(Photo: NIKO TAVERNISE/TWENTIETH CENTURY STUDIOS)

To say audiences are burnt out from lackluster reboots of classics is an understatement. For the last six or more years, it seems everything has been rebooted. If Hollywood did this because they ran out of original ideas then I think now they’ve run out of projects to redo. People enjoyed the 1961 West Side Story film and for many, that was enough. We didn’t need a new one – you could just watch the old one and that was fine. Are people tired of musicals? Or did they just not want to see this pseudo-Romeo/Juliet story?

No One Wants to Go to the Theater?

I mean, let’s be frank – movie theater attendance for anything other than action films was on the decline even prior to the pandemic. Unless you’re a cinephile, you probably just wait for movies to become available to view at home. Now, with all of these different variants of COVID coming out, who is risking their health for a movie? I’m serious – movies may say that they require masks and such, but I’ve been to the theaters recently and people aren’t social distancing or wearing masks. I wouldn’t blame someone for being cautious.

Ansel Elgort

(Photo: NIKO TAVERNISE/TWENTIETH CENTURY STUDIOS)

I think Spielberg did a real disservice to his project when he cast Elgort as Tony. Not only was Elgort stiff as Tony and provided no spark between him and Rachel Zegler’s Maria, but let’s be honest – audiences don’t want to see a movie where the lead is accused of some pretty serious stuff. Ever since the accusations of Elgort came out, people haven’t been too happy to support his projects. And while West Side Story has great side characters, fantastic musical numbers, and gorgeous costumes, the story is primarily centered around two people. And when one of those people is accused of some really bad stuff, then people don’t want to give money to see this person.

These are just my thoughts on why I believe West Side Story flopped. What do you think?

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