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West Side Story trailer offers a glimpse at the famous gang war in long-awaited remake


West Side Story director Steven Spielberg has shared one of his behind-the-scenes traditions in a new trailer for the musical remake which has threatened to ‘cancel’ him following a string of political rows.

The director, 74, toasts the end of filming for the production in the preview, after critics hinted it could end his career following controversy around its representation of Latin-Americans in film.  

The film’s main star Ansel Elgort, was also been hit with accusations of sexual assault by a woman named Gabby, which he denies, just months before its release in December.

Tradition: West Side Story director Steven Spielberg has shared one of his behind-the-scenes traditions in a new trailer for the musical remake which has threatens to ‘cancel’ him following a string of political rows

In the clip, Steven reveals: ‘This is a tradition on all of our movies, where we toast the first shot and we toast the last shot,’ as he’s seen raising a glass to his cast and crew on the last day of production.

The clip also shows Steven analysing footage through the monitor, before adding: ‘And I just want to say that we have actually been in production on this for months.’

‘But now, to actually bring all those elements together as one voice into an ensemble, I’m just so proud and honored that I got this shot, this late in my career, of being able to tell this story, based on the 1957 Broadway musical,’ Spielberg says.

Ahead of the film’s release, many commentators have warned that Steven’s decision to direct the remake could spark the end of his career, after a perfect storm of sexual assualt accusations and ‘woke’ fans questioning the film’s racial inclusivity.

‘The original West Side Story film is as close to a sacred cow as movie musicals get,’ wrote Entertainment Weekly magazine, with Susan Haskins, host of American TV show Theater Talk, stating: ‘Leave it alone, Steven Spielberg,’ before branding the film a ‘terrible idea.’

Coming soon: The director, 74, toasts the end of filming for the production in the preview, after critics hinted it could end his career following controversy around its representation of Latin-Americans in film

Coming soon: The director, 74, toasts the end of filming for the production in the preview, after critics hinted it could end his career following controversy around its representation of Latin-Americans in film

Hard at work: The clip also shows Steven analysing footage through the monitor, before adding: 'And I just want to say that we have actually been in production on this for months'

Hard at work: The clip also shows Steven analysing footage through the monitor, before adding: ‘And I just want to say that we have actually been in production on this for months’

At a New York charity screening of the original West Side Story film, the audience booed when a remake was mentioned.

Despite the controversy, Steven previously said he’s vowed to make a faithful adaptation, which won’t be marred by claims of ‘whitewashing’ which have dogged the 1961 film over the years, after many of its Puerto Rican characters, including star Natalie Wood, were played by white actors in dark makeup.

This story is not only a product of its time, but that time has returned, and it’s returned with a kind of social fury,’ he told Vanity Fair

He also said he’s aiming to highlight the ‘battle against the obstacles of xenophobia and racial prejudice’ – in a time when American is still struggling with the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. 

Steven also previously said he only hired Hispanic actors to play the roles of the immigrants in the film, to ensure the film is politically correct.   

‘They brought an authenticity,’ he said, after employing a dialect coach to perfect their accents. ‘They brought themselves, and everything they believe and everything about them – they brought that to the work.’ 

Proud: He says: 'But now, to actually bring all those elements together as one voice into an ensemble, I'm just so proud and honored that I got this shot, this late in my career'

Proud: He says: ‘But now, to actually bring all those elements together as one voice into an ensemble, I’m just so proud and honored that I got this shot, this late in my career’

Accusations: Star Ansel Elgort, who plays the lead role of Tony, has also been accused of sexual assault by a woman named Gabby when they were in a relationship in 2014

Accusations: Star Ansel Elgort, who plays the lead role of Tony, has also been accused of sexual assault by a woman named Gabby when they were in a relationship in 2014

Many Puerto Ricans have also expressed their outrage that Spielberg has kept the original film’s lyrics from the famous tune American, which mocks the island nation. 

Sung by Rita Moreno, the lyrics read: ‘Puerto Rico, My heart’s devotion,/ Let it sink back in the ocean./Always the hurricanes blowing./ Always the population growing./ And the money owing.’

Many activists have claimed that many immigrants leave the nation to find better economic prospects, with University Of Puerto Rico’s Isel Rodriguez saying: ‘No one wants to leave, this is paradise.’

The New York Post stated: ‘He’s going to get cancelled for it,’ after the similarly-themed musical In The Heights was lambasted by ‘woke’ critics for complaining the film only featured light-skinned Hispanics.  

‘What chance does Spielberg have?’ the Post said. ‘Say bye-bye to Oscar, Steven … If Lin-Manuel Miranda can get cancelled, so can you.’

The film has also been marred by accusations aimed at its star Ansel Elgort, who plays the role of Tony, who forms a forbidden romance with Puerto Rican beauty Maria. 

Back in July 2020, a woman named Gabby came forward and claimed she had a relationship with Ansel in 2014 and he sexually assaulted her, when she was just 17 and he was 20.

Elgort, who is now 27, admitted that he did have a relationship with Gabby, but denied the allegation that he sexually assaulted her.

In a statement posted to Instagram he said: ‘I was distressed to see the social media post about me that have been circulating in the past 24 hours.

‘I cannot claim to understand Gabby’s feelings but her description of events is simply not what happened. I have never and would never assault anyone.’ 

Ansel also confirmed that he had a relationship with Gabby in 2014 while in New York when he was 20, but he described it as being a ‘brief, legal and entirely consensual relationship.’ 

Elgort seemed to paint the sexual assault accusations as the result of a bad breakup, writing, ‘I stopped responding to her, which is an immature and cruel thing to do to someone.

‘I know this belated apology does not absolve me of my unacceptable behavior when I disappeared,’ he continued.

‘As I look back at my attitude, I am disgusted and deeply ashamed of the way I acted. I am truly sorry. I know I must continue to reflect, learn, and work to grow in empathy,’ he concluded.

After the trailer features Steven’s words on the film, it then cuts to finished footage where Maria Vasquez (newcomer Rachel Zegler) tells her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez), ‘I want to be happy here. I want to make a life, a home.’

But Bernardo, the leader of the gang of Puerto Rico natives known as The Sharks, tells her, ‘Stay away from him,’ the him being Tony (Ansel Elgort), part of the Sharks’ rival gang of white men known as the Jets.

Elements: In the clip, Spielberg reveals he and the crew always toast the first and the final day of production on each of his films

Elements: In the clip, Spielberg reveals he and the crew always toast the first and the final day of production on each of his films

Siblings: The clip also shows footage from the film, where Maria Vasquez (newcomer Rachel Zegler) tells her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez) about her desperate want for freedom

Siblings: The clip also shows footage from the film, where Maria Vasquez (newcomer Rachel Zegler) tells her brother Bernardo (David Alvarez) about her desperate want for freedom

Stay away: But Bernardo, the leader of the gang of Puerto Rico natives known as The Sharks, tells her, 'Stay away from him,' the him being Tony (Ansel Elgort), part of the Sharks' rival gang

Stay away: But Bernardo, the leader of the gang of Puerto Rico natives known as The Sharks, tells her, ‘Stay away from him,’ the him being Tony (Ansel Elgort), part of the Sharks’ rival gang

Fight bacK; Maria fights back and proclaims, 'I'm gonna think for myself

Tony: She rushess to the fire escape, where she later finds Tony, who says, 'Run away with me'

Defiant: Maria fights back and proclaims, ‘I’m gonna think for myself,’ before rushing to the fire escape, where she later finds Tony, who says, ‘Run away with me’

Maria fights back and proclaims, ‘I’m gonna think for myself,’ before rushing to the fire escape, where she later finds Tony, who says, ‘Run away with me.’  

Another shot shows Tony chatting with Valentina (Rita Moreno), who offers him some advice, stating, ‘You don’t want to start with, ‘I’d like to take you out for coffee.”

The video ends with a number of shots that showcase the musical number America before the video comes to an end.

Tony: Another shot shows Tony chatting with Valentina (Rita Moreno)

Valentina: Valentina offers him some advice, stating, 'You don't want to start with, "I'd like to take you out for coffee"'

Tony and Valentina: Another clip from the film shows Tony chatting with Valentina (played by original West Side Story star Rita Moreno), who offers him some advice on his love life

America: The video ends with a number of shots that showcase the iconic number America, which sees Anita reflect on moving to the US from Puerto Rico

America: The video ends with a number of shots that showcase the iconic number America, which sees Anita reflect on moving to the US from Puerto Rico

The story first debuted as a Broadway musical in 1957, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Steven Sondheim, loosely inspired by Romeo and Juliet.

The musical was nominated for six Tony Awards and ran for 732 performances before embarking on a tour.

The musical was adapted for the silver screen in 1961, starring Natalie Wood as Maria, Richard Beymer as Tony, George Chakaris as Bernardo, Russs Tamblyn as Riff and Rita Moreno as Anita.  

Story: West Side Story first debuted as a Broadway musical in 1957, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Steven Sondheim, loosely inspired by Romeo and Juliet

Story: West Side Story first debuted as a Broadway musical in 1957, with a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Steven Sondheim, loosely inspired by Romeo and Juliet

Adapted: The musical was adapted for the silver screen in 1961, starring Natalie Wood as Maria, and Richard Beymer as Tony (the 2021 remake is pictured)

Adapted: The musical was adapted for the silver screen in 1961, starring Natalie Wood as Maria, and Richard Beymer as Tony (the 2021 remake is pictured)

The film was a commercial and critical hit, winning 10 Oscar awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (George Chakaris) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Rita Moreno).

This new adaptation also stars Corey Stoll as Lieutenant Schrank, Mike Faist as Riff, Ariana DeBose as Anita and Maddie Ziegler as Velma.

West Side Story will hit theaters December 10, going up against Amazon’s Being the Ricardos in limited release.  

Big hit: The film was a huge hit, winning 10 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (George Chakaris) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Rita Moreno)

Big hit: The film was a huge hit, winning 10 Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (George Chakaris) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Rita Moreno)

He added that they had, ‘a brief, legal, and entirely consensual relationship. Unfortunately, I did not handle the breakup well. I stopped responding to her, which is an immature and cruel thing to do to someone. I know this belated apology does not absolve me of my unacceptable behavior when I disappeared.’

‘As I look back at my attitude, I am disgusted and deeply ashamed of the way I acted. I am truly sorry. I know I must continue to reflect, learn, and work to grow in empathy,’ he added.

Gabby added that they both first spoke just two days before her 17th birthday, adding that he was aware of her age when they first spoke.

She also claimed that during a sexual encounter she was left ‘sobbing in pain’ adding that he made cruel and inappropriate remarks.

Gabby also wrote, ‘I have PTSD. I have panic attacks. I go to therapy’ in a Twitter post, though she later deleted it from social media.

In theaters: West Side Story will hit theaters December 10, going up against Amazon's Being the Ricardos in limited release

In theaters: West Side Story will hit theaters December 10, going up against Amazon’s Being the Ricardos in limited release



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