By Jeff Labrecque
Fox is dusting off West Side Story, the 1961 musical that won 10 Academy Awards, based on hints that Steven Spielberg is interested in developing the property for a big-screen remake. Deadline initially reported the news, which focuses equally on the role DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snyder might play if she jumps studios, and sources familiar with the project confirm to EW that wheels are in motion to make West Side Story available for the legendary director as a possible “passion project.”
Spielberg has never made a musical, and West Side Story is one of the most acclaimed movie musicals of all time. It would be fascinating to see what the director of Saving Private Ryan and E.T. would do with the tale of a Romeo & Juliet-style forbidden love affair between a boy and a girl from rival, ethnically divided New York City street gangs. The 1961 movie, starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as the star-crossed lovers, won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Chakiris), Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno), Best Director (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins), Best Music, and five other categories.
The most recent Broadway revival, which wove in Spanish and English dialogue, closed in 2011 after two years, but in the current age of musical-based entertainment, with hits like Glee and Les Misérables, the timing for a new West Side Story might be better than ever. No doubt the film’s casting would be some of the most competitive and publicly fascinating in years.