Steven Spielberg Just Suffered A Huge Flop At The Box Office

West Side Story, the latest movie from Steven Spielberg and his first musical adaptation struggled at the box office for its opening weekend

By Doug Norrie | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

steven spielberg

Steven Spielberg has had some of the great box office wins of all-time, truly iconic movies that will resonate in the history of cinema long after the famed director has left us. Unfortunately, his latest movie might not fall into that classic category and right now it’s struggling a the box office in a mighty way. Deadline is reporting that West Side Story isn’t hitting early markers in terms of ticket sales and there is a growing concern that we could be headed towards “bomb” territory. 

The box office numbers for Steven Spielberg and company came in over the weekend and they are a bit unsettling if thinking about the macro prospects for West Side Story. The first reporting has the film putting up a total of $10.5 million domestically with $4.1 million and $3.8 million on Friday and Saturday night respectively. This is tracking much lower than initial projections and could be running into logistical problems with both continued pandemic-related hesitancy around theater attendance as well as putting a musical like this out so close to the holiday season. 

There is a feeling among insiders (as reported in the Deadline feature) that this movie would track similarly to other Steven Spielberg movies that have been released in this time period. The difference here though is that this movie is different for the director in that it is his first-ever musical on the big screen. It had been recently reported that he originally intended for Hook to be a musical, but Spielberg scrapped that idea at the last minute. Musicals like West Side Story tend to attract an older, female audience (per Deadline) but that demo would be less likely to head to the theaters right now as the holiday prep season is kicking into high gear. Additionally, some were questioning the core audience for the film and whether it could really ever live up to the financial heights it set out. 

west side story

Steven Spielberg has adapted West Side Story from the 1957 Broadway play and subsequent 1961 movie version. It stars Ansel Elgort as Tony and Rachel Zegler as Maria. Where the trouble is, at least on the box office front, is that the reported budget for the film is $100 million dollars. That’s going to be a struggle to recoup considering the opening weekend numbers. Sure, it will eventually land on Disney+ which changes the box office game to some degree seeing as how studios can factor in the long-term viability of a movie a bit differently than just counting up the box office receipts. 

And it’s also worth noting that, from a critical perspective, Steven Spielberg looks like he made another movie in line with his previous great work. West Side Story is crushing it in the review department currently sitting at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and 86 on Metacritic. These are incredibly high scores obviously and speak to a fantastic adaptation. But in terms of money-making? Well, that could be a different story and time will tell if the dollar signs are able to tick up over the course of its theater run.