AceShowbiz - "West Side Story" failed to tap into the hearts of young moviegoers. Coming from renowned filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the new take on the 1957 stage musical has become a huge flop at the North American box office with just an estimated $10.5 million opening.
It is only ten percent of what Disney and 20th Century Studios reportedly spent in the making of the Shakespearean love story revival for modern times. With a reported $100 million budget, the studios stand to lose millions unless the Ansel Elgort-starring musical endures at the box office through the holidays and Oscar season.
Receiving glowing reviews from critics with an average rating of 8.30/10 on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie earned only $3 million more than "Dear Evan Hansen" ($7.4 million), which was skewered by critics, and $1 million less than what "In the Heights" ($11.5 million) made. The poor performance of "West Side Story" could have resulted from the reluctance of old moviegoers, who made up the bulk of ticket-buyers for Spielberg's latest, to return to theaters amid concerns over coronavirus variants.
"To draw moviegoers to adult dramas in huge numbers right now seems like a pretty heavy lift," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for data firm Comscore. "That will wane over time, but it is concerning for filmmakers and studios." He added though, "But I don't think this is the final act for 'West Side Story'. A lot of people counted out 'The Greatest Showman'," which stumbled with a $8.8 million start but ended up raking in $171 million domestically.
Despite the disappointing opening number, "West Side Story" still leads the domestic chart on a sluggish weekend. Two-time champion "Encanto" is pushed to No. 2 with an estimated $9.4 million, while "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" follows at No. 3 with approximately $7.1 million.
"House of Gucci" also drops one place to No. 4 with approximately $4.1 million. Meanwhile, "Eternals" holds on to the fifth position with additional $3.1 million, bringing its total domestic haul to $161 million.
Top 10 of North America Box Office (Dec. 10-12, 2021):