In a better timeline, we would have seen Steven Spielberg’s take on West Side Story already. Originally scheduled for an Oscar season December release, it got bumped nearly a year by the pandemic. And so not only haven’t we seen it, but we haven’t even seen a trailer — until now. Dropped into the middle of the Steven Soderbergh-led Academy Awards telecast was the first look at what one of cinema’s most popular filmmakers did with a classic.
The trailer leans heavily on two things: dancing and gang warfare. Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner kept the original premise, which is restaging Romeo and Juliet to the modern day, with our star-crossed lovers torn between two warring gangs: one American, the other Puerto Rican. We only get glimpses of our main pair, played by Rachel Zegler and Ansel Elgort, instead seeing the large ensemble who will take an old war horse into our present day.
Spielberg has never made a full-blown musical, though he has dabbled. 1941 and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom both have cracking good musical numbers. It should be exciting to see what he cooks up, but it’s already clear that, with this and the also long-postponed movie version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, 2021 is going to be a great year for the New York City-set movie musical.
You can watch the full trailer in the video above.