Where can you sing along and watch ‘West Side Story’ for free?
Tonight, tonight, it all begins tonight! In the world of Hollywood remakes, reboots, and ripoffs, it’s about time that West Side Story got a much-needed & deserved revisit. With the original screen adaptation of the Broadway hit releasing way back in 1961, there was ample room for improvement & updating for the sixtieth anniversary.
When you think of the greatest storytellers of all time, in the top ten list would almost certainly be William Shakespeare, the author of Romeo & Juliet, and Steven Spielberg, who directed and co-produced. Add both of those two together, and you have what can only be a powerhouse of potential. The adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic hits theaters on December 10th, but where can you watch West Side Story for free?
West Side Story (1961)
Released on October 18th, 1961, through United Artists, the film received high praise from critics & viewers and became the highest-grossing film of 1961. It was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won ten, including Best Picture (in addition to a special award for Robbins), becoming the record holder for the most wins for a musical.
Two teenage gangs struggle for control on the Upper West Side in New York City in the 1950s. The Jets, a white gang led by Riff, brawl with the Sharks, a group of Puerto Ricans led by Bernardo. After the cops break it up, the Jets decide to challenge the Sharks to a rumble after an upcoming dance. Caught in the middle are lovers Tony, co-founder of the Jets, and Maria, sister to the leader of the Sharks.
West Side Story is regarded as one of the greatest musical films of all time. The film has been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1997.
West Side Story (2021)
It’s been sixty years since the original movie hit theaters, which means that Spielberg’s West Side Story is understandably different & suited for the 21st century. In an interview with Collider before the film’s release in December 2021, Spielberg admitted that he and screenwriter Kushner paid “surgical attention” to every scene in this adaptation.
“Every scene is a little building block, like a string of pearls,” he said. “I don’t think there was any scene that we didn’t pay surgical attention to. Tony was also very much open to new ideas that the actors might have and whether there was another way to do the scene. There was one scene in particular, and I’m not gonna say what the scene was, that there were 32 rewrites on.”
The effort paid off; Roger Ebert had this to say, “There’s so much beauty in this West Side Story. It merges things that have truly shaped pop culture, from the graceful precision of Spielberg to the masterful songwriting of Sondheim & Bernstein to the brilliant writing of Tony Kushner to the immigrant experience in this country. It grabs you from the very beginning and takes you there. Somehow, someday, somewhere.”
Can you watch it for free?
West Side Story will have an exclusive forty-five-day run in the theaters. This means, unless you have a friend working at the theater to get you in for free, you’ll have to pay to watch. That also means you can expect it to hit your streaming service around the end of January.
Due to an ongoing deal with HBO Max to share co-exclusive rights on all 20th Century Fox films, we may see West Side Story on that streamer as well. Although it’s unlikely you can watch it for free on day one, like the rest of HBO Max’s theatrical releases, it’ll be one more place you can sing along.
Are you excited to watch this remake? How many songs can you sing along to? Will you be seeing it in the theaters or waiting to watch for free on a streaming service? Let us know in the comments below!