Box Office: ‘West Side Story’ Opening on Top With Concerning $10 Million Debut

20th Century Studios’ “West Side Story” is off to a slow start at the domestic box office. Steven Spielberg’s movie musical grossed $4.1 million across 2,820 locations on Friday. Though “West Side Story” had a quiet debut on Thursday evening, collecting just $800,000 in previews, box office analysts were still sticking with original expectations for the film to bring in $10 to $15 million over its opening weekend. Now, it seems that the numbers will likely fall near the floor of that estimate, if even within them.

While an opening around $10 million wouldn’t spell out-and-out doom for “West Side Story,” it must not feel like an auspicious first step for its production companies Amblin Entertainment and TSG Entertainment. Spielberg’s musical cost $100 million to produce and even more to promote, a hefty budget that the release will now hope to match by drawing international audiences and putting up impressive holds over the holiday season.

A respectable box office performance over the next few weeks is certainly within the realm of possibility for the musical. The film has conjured glowing reviews, with Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman writing that “there are scenes in Spielberg’s version that will melt you, scenes that will make your pulse race and scenes where you simply sit back and revel in the big-spirited grandeur of it all.” “West Side Story” has been landing highly with various critics groups and awards bodies, including the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, and is expected to be a major competitor over this year’s awards season.  What’s more, the musical has landed a coveted “A” CinemaScore, indicating strong approval from general audiences.

An adaptation of the beloved 1957 Broadway musical, “West Side Story” was written by Tony Kushner and stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as star-crossed lovers Tony and Maria, whose passion for each other aggravates a gang war between the Puerto Rican Sharks and the white Jets. The cast also includes Ariana DeBose as Anita, David Alvarez as Bernardo, Mike Faist as Riff and Rita Moreno as Valentina, a new role created for this adaptation.

More to come…

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