The famed director initially expressed his hopes to recreate Stephen Sondheim classic for the big screen in March 2014, leading 20th Century Fox to pick up the rights to the project. Three years later, Tony Kushner revealed he was teaming up with Spielberg for the third time to write the movie’s screenplay. (They previously worked together on 2005’s Munich and 2012’s Lincoln.)
It wasn’t until mid-2018 that the movie really started to gain momentum. Open casting calls were held in New York City and Orlando to find the perfect fits for the main characters: Maria, Tony, Anita and Bernardo.
“[It’s] a beautiful display of Latin joy and the way that young Latin girls deserve to see themselves—dancing around in pretty dresses and singing about loving themselves,” she told Vogue in November 2020. “It’s something that’s mattered so much to me, being Latina [and] singing ‘I Feel Pretty’ and meaning it. I hope that young people everywhere will know that their features are gorgeous and their culture is beautiful. I think that’s what it’s meant to my family. They know that it’s going to happen.”
The latest interpretation of the Broadway staple was filmed in New York City in the summer of 2019. It wrapped that September and was initially set for a December 2020 release, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the date to be pushed back to the following year.
Though it wasn’t originally the plan, West Side Story‘s December 2021 premiere will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the 1961 film. Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Anita in the original movie, is ready for the world to see the magical remake. She returns to the West Side Story world in a new role — and it’s more than just a cameo.
“To be there, when Steven is giving you directions, and Steven is jumping around like a child with his finder, saying, ‘Rita, look at this. What do you think of this shot?’” she told Variety in early 2021. “He’s so enthused and happy — what a joy to work with this man. The sets will blow you away. You will really believe you’re in el barrio. It’s just astonishing.”
Scroll down for everything to know so far about the 2021 version of West Side Story: