‘West Side Story’ Is Delayed an Entire Year Due To the Pandemic

Lead Photo: Rita Moreno as Valentina in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.
Rita Moreno as Valentina in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.
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With Hollywood still working in pandemic mode, the impact of COVID-19 continues to impact studios across the industry. One of the latest changes to the 2020 film schedule happened today when 20th Century and Amblin announced the delay of Steven’s Spielberg’s West Side Story, which was set to hit theaters December 18. Now, the musical has been given a new release date–December 10, 2021. Yes, a whole year later.

West Side Story is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Set in the Upper West Side of New York City during the 1950s, the story follows a rivalry between two gangs – the Jets, a white gang, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang. Trouble begins when Tony, a former member of the Jets, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo.

A film was adapted from the play in 1961 featuring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers. It would go on to win 10 of the 11 Academy Awards it was nominated for that year, including Best Picture and Best Director. Actress and EGOT icon Rita Moreno became the first Latina to win an Oscar for her supporting role as Anita, Bernardo’s girlfriend. In Spielberg’s version, Moreno was returning to play a new supporting role, Valentina, a re-gendered and “expanded version” of a store owner character from the original film.

Other big moves on the film calendar today included two movies from Marvel: Black Widow jumps from November 6 to March 7, 2021; and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings from May 7 to July 9, 2021.