Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story debuted to mild box office numbers despite its critical acclaim: $10.5 million. Still, the musical landed on top of the domestic box office.
The muted response to the revered filmmaker’s adaptation of the 1957 stage musical of the same name followed the tepid box office numbers of movie musicals in the coronavirus pandemic era: Jon M. Chu’s In the Heights and Stephen Chbosky’s Dear Evan Hansen.
Box office analysts offered the hope that with its very favorable word-of-mouth from those who have seen the film and the holiday season, West Side Story – like Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman, which also bowed dismally then went on to be a hit – will eventually attract more filmgoers.
West Side Story stars Ansel Elgort (Tony), Rachel Zegler (making her feature film debut as Maria), Rita Moreno (who was in the first film adaptation in 1961 as Anita but in a newly created role, Valentina, in Spielberg’s version), Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Josh Andres Rivera and Corey Stoll.
Pundits point to the pattern that people over 35 years old, which make up the bulk of West Side Story’s potential audience, are still hesitant to troop back to the cineplexes in the COVID-19 health crisis period.
The animated feature Encanto is holding well, grabbing $9.43 million to place second. Now officially the biggest animated hit of the pandemic period, Encanto has a rosy future ahead, as more families trek to the movie houses during the Christmas break.
In a similar fashion, Ghostbusters: Afterlife also stands to gain in the coming holidays. Ranking third, the sequel to Ghostbusters I and II picked up $7.1 million.
House of Gucci, apparently benefiting from its theatrical release only (streaming will begin after its 45-day movie house run window), collected $4.06 million to add to its $41.03 million cumulative tally after three weeks. Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto and Al Pacino’s drama, placing fourth, appears to have sturdy legs and may draw more folks hankering for adult drama fare.
The MCU production, Eternals, drew $3.1 million for a fifth-place finish. Angelina Jolie’s superhero movie, which has amassed $161.2 million so far, will be eclipsed next week with the arrival of another Marvel saga, Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Making up the rest of the North American top ten were, in order: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City ($1.65 million), Clifford the Big Red Dog ($1.33 million), Christmas with the Chosen: The Messenger ($1.29 million), Dune ($857,000) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($850,000).
Overseas, West Side Story also made a low-key debut, grossing $4.4 million in almost 40 markets.
Encanto, boosted by its Colombian setting, continues to enchant in Latin America, especially in Colombia and Brazil.
Also casting its spell in Spain and Mexico, the animated film, voiced by John Leguizamo, Stephanie Beatriz and Maria Cecilia Botero, earned $13.6 million overseas, adding to its offshore and global tallies, $80.5 million and $151.2 million, respectively.
Other key players internationally were House of Gucci ($10.14 million), Clifford the Big Red Dog ($7.4 million), Ghostbusters: Afterlife ($6.4 million), Venom: Let There Be Carnage ($4.7 million), Eternals ($3.6 million), Dune ($3 million) and Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City ($2.3 million).