The songs "One Hand, One Heart" and "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" were performed live on set by Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler & Ariana DeBose and Zegler respectively. Sections of "Maria" were also sung live on set by Elgort, as per his request. All other songs were filmed to the more traditional playback technique. "Somewhere" was also sung live on set by Rita Moreno.

John Williams was brought in to serve as music consultant for the film. Williams was piano soloist for the soundtrack of the 1961 version.

The film is dedicated to Steven Spielberg's father Arnold Spielberg an electrical engineer and World War II veteran, who died of natural causes at the age of 103 in 2020, the year the film was initially supposed to be released.

According to a behind-the-scenes featurette of the film, Steven Spielberg explained why he always wanted to direct a motion picture adaptation of the original 1957 Broadway musical production: "I have been challenged by what would be the right musical to take on. And I could never forget my childhood. I was 10 years old when I first listened to the West Side Story album, and it never went away. I've been able to fulfill that dream and keep that promise that I made to myself: You must make West Side Story." He, then, went on to explain why the musical is even more topical in modern times than it was when the musical first premiered on Broadway: "Divisions between un-likeminded people is as old as time itself," Spielberg said. "And the divisions between the Sharks and the Jets in 1957, which inspired the musical, were profound. But not as divided as we find ourselves today. It turned out in the middle of the development of the script, things widened, which I think in a sense, sadly, made the story of those racial divides - not just territorial divides - more relevant to today's audience than perhaps it even was in 1957."

Considering the relatively large 60-year time span between the original and this production, three actors who appeared in the 1961 release reprise different roles in this 2021 production, including, Rita Moreno, Harvey Evans and David Bean. Evans and Bean were both members of "The Jets" in the original, respectively playing Mouthpiece and Tiger. Evans passed away two weeks after this film's release.

When casting this remake, Steven Spielberg insisted that all Latino characters be portrayed by real Latino actors, while in the 1961 version, most of the Puerto Rican characters are played by white actors.

While she has played Maria in plenty of stage productions of "West Side Story", this is Rachel Zegler's first film role. Steven Spielberg credits her as the greatest Maria he's ever witnessed.

Steven Spielberg offered Rita Moreno a chance to be in the new WSS. Thinking it was a cameo, she declined -- until she learned she would be playing a supporting role, that of "Valentina," a newly imagined character, the widow of the drugstore owner, "Doc," in the original version.

Released posthumously after lyricist Stephen Sondheim died on November 26, 2021, days before the world premiere. He did, however, get to see the final cut of the film and prefers this film to the 1961 film, as he told Stephen Colbert on the latter's late-night talk show.

Director of Photography, Janusz Kaminski, went to great lengths to replicate, as closely as possible, the lighting and visual style of the original 1961 film, as photographed by its Oscar-winning cinematographer Daniel L. Fapp A.S.C.

Contrasting with most modern movie musicals, almost the entirety of the cast is made up of musical theatre performers unknown to mainstream film audiences. Rita Moreno is the most famous among the lead cast, being an EGOT winner. Except for Ansel Elgort (who became famous through non-musical films), Rachel Zegler (who got cast straight out of high school), and Corey Stoll (who's worked primarily on TV with a few supporting film roles), all of the principals are Broadway alums.

Ansel Elgort did his own climbing for the balcony scene. He tried to convince the production to not give him a safety harness, but was ultimately overruled.

Stephen Sondheim's lyrics contain frequent euphemisms for the F-word such as "bugging" in When You're a Jet (the 1961 film removed the phrase in the original production "mother lovin", restored in this version). But Sondheim initially wanted to use the F-word in the song Gee, Officer Krupke for shock value. Upon being informed the cast recording could not be shipped out of state with profanity, he agreed to change the lyric to "Officer Krupke, Krup you!"

According to Rachel Zegler, Spielberg instructed her to have "less fun dancing with Chino" because "Tony wouldn't stand a chance with you smiling like that."

Mike Faist lost about 20 pounds (9 kg) to play Riff, inspired by real photos of young gang members during the 1950's that he discovered while researching his character.

To establish a strong bond among the Jet actors, Mike Faist took it upon himself to schedule what he called "Jet-tivities", where each member took their turn picking a social activity that all of them were required to participate in. And while they didn't take it to the extremes the 1961 film actors did, they also did a few things to heighten the tension between them and the Shark actors, such as competing against them in a LARP battle and upstaging them by buying roses for all of the female cast members.

In interviews Rachel Zegler recalls that when she received the role of Maria she was about to begin rehearsals for her final school musical which was Shrek: The Musical. She asked Steven Spielberg if she could still do the show despite being cast in the movie to which he replied, "I produced the original Shrek, of course you can do Shrek". Coincidently this film also features Brian d'Arcy James (Officer Krupke) who originated the role of Shrek on Broadway.

It was well publicized how all the actors in this version would do their own singing, unlike the original which infamously dubbed almost every principal soloist either partially or entirely.

With this film, Steven Spielberg becomes the first person to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director over six consecutive decades.

Mike Faist originally auditioned for Tony, before he was asked to read for the role of Riff instead, which he ultimately landed. The same thing happened with Russ Tamblyn in the 1961 film.

The famous "puddle shot" from the "Maria" segment, where Tony steps into a large puddle of water, making it become a rippling pool of light while singing the song, was a last minute suggestion by Janusz Kaminski to Steven Spielberg on the final day of principal photography after filming was completed on the Balcony scene. It was also the last shot to be filmed, with Rita Moreno having the honor of doing clapperboard for all of the shot's takes.

To avoid the brownface issue of the original film, Steven Spielberg specifically asked for Latino actors for the Shark auditions. To a lesser extent, Spielberg also averted the Latino Is Brown trope present in the 1961 film by casting Latino actors across several ethnicities. For instance, Rachel Zegler (Maria) is of Colombian decent and Ariana DeBose (Anita) is Afro-Latina. Ariana even feared she was too dark for the role, but Spielberg insisted she was perfect.

This film marks the first time Steven Spielberg has directed a musical. Spielberg previously developed a semi-autobiographical musical film titled "Reel to Reel" in the early 1980s, but the project was eventually abandoned.

The film follows the original song order of the stage musical with just two exceptions: "Gee, Officer Krupke" is moved to earlier (as the 1961 movie also did) and "Cool" (usually performed before the war council in the stage musical) is sung by Tony to Riff (rather than being sung by Ice to the Jets) The 1961 film placed "Cool" much later (after the rumble) and was performed by Ice - known as Diesel in the stage musical. The 2021 film changes that character back to Diesel, with a separate Jet, also named Ice, created for this film.

An anomaly with the brakes system of the New York City Subway has the lines screeching out the first three notes of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" from West Side Story. This anomaly is intentionally featured in the film for the scene where Maria meets Tony in the Subway.

This film's end credits sequence pays homage to the 1961 film's groundbreaking end credits sequence designed by Saul Bass, except that in this version, while following the same concept, the credits themselves are not literally presented as graffiti. In addition, the 1961 film's instrumental end credit suite is carried over to this film as well, but extended from 5 minutes to 9 minutes in order to fit the length of the credit roll following the main-on-end title portion, by incorporating "America," "Scherzo" and "Mambo" into the existing medley comprising of "Somewhere, "Tonight," "I Feel Pretty" and "Maria."

Steven Spielberg and Ariana DeBose were nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress, awards for which their predecessors, Robert Wise and Rita Moreno, received for the original film.

When Ansel Elgort went to audition for Steven Spielberg, Elgort did not inform anyone he was feeling sick at the time. After Spielberg learned of this, he invited Elgort back to retest for Tony, which he immediately got.

Rachel Zegler had never acted in any professional capacity before she won the role of Maria in the open casting call. Even before the film was released, the word getting out that Spielberg cast her as a lead was apparently enough for her to land important roles in the sequel to Shazam! (2019) - Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) - and the live-action remake of Snow White (2024).

The beginning of the "Dance at the Gym" sequence involved three different shots stitched together to make it look like one continuous shot. Janusz Kaminski described that it "starts as Steadicam, bringing the actors down the hallway, then as soon as the doors open up, it transitions into a cable cam shot that goes up into the air and over to the other side of the gym." This moment from the film later went viral on Twitter two months after the film's release, with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro describing it as "Extremely hard to execute. Pure, masterly clockwork precision and a lot more complex than "seamed" shots or steadicam-to-crane "relay" shots. Baffling, virtuoso- but one of so, so many shots that make the camera "dance" with each musical number."

The museum Tony and Maria visit together is The Cloisters, also known as the Met Cloisters, a museum specializing in European medieval art and architecture, with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods.

Screenwriter Tony Kushner has stated the film will be more in line with the original book by Arthur Laurents than the 1961 film adaptation.

Brian d'Arcy James is a Tony nominated Broadway star, both regarded as an excellent singer and dancer. He plays Officer Krupke who does neither of those things.

When Tony is singing "Maria" outside the tenement, in the background is graffiti on a wall behind him that says "Chita." Presumably, this is a nod to Chita Rivera, the original Anita on Broadway.

During "America," a group of Puerto Rican protesters can be seen. One of them holds a sign mentioning Robert Moses, who oversaw New York City's post-war urban development and was responsible for displacing several ethnic communities in favor of his construction projects. Needless to say, Moses remains one of the most controversial figures in New York's history.

Rachel Zegler played Maria onstage at the Bergen Performing Arts Center at the age of 16 before being cast for the film.

Since the West Side of Manhattan had long been redeveloped and gentrified since the time of the original musical and filming of the 1961 adaptation, the film was shot in various other locations in the New York City area that more closely resemble how the neighborhood used to look, including Harlem, Brooklyn, and Newark and Paterson in New Jersey.

Mike Faist's portrayal of Riff has been singled out as a highlight by many fans and critics with much praise going to how he captures Riff's dangerous side and volatility but also his vulnerability and charisma, even earning praise from former Riff actor Russ Tamblyn.

Naya Rivera campaigned and sent an audition tape in for the role of Anita. She had previously played this role (and sung the songs "America" and "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love") in Glee (2009), during Glee: The First Time (2011), during the school's performance of "West Side Story". However, she sadly drowned in the summer of 2020.

Bernardo and Maria are given the surname Vasquez in this version. You can see it on the boxing poster in their apartment, advertising one of Bernardo's past fights.

A sign in the opening sequence shows the slums are being razed to make way for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The Lincoln Center was built on the spot where the 1961 movie was filmed; the slums that provided the film's locations were razed for the urban renewal project.

Unlike with the 1961 film and stage productions, some of the cast were actually age appropriate. Rachel Zegler, who hit 18 just before filming began and thus was the same age as Maria. Patrick Higgins (Baby John) was was a sophomore in high school at the time of filming.

"One Hand, One Heart" was originally written for the balcony scene, until Stephen Sondheim reconsidered that such a solemn song did not capture the spirit of youthful romance and passion at first sight. He and Leonard Bernstein repurposed the music from Tonight Quintet (which had already been written) to write a new variation on Tonight, which then became a motif throughout the play.

It's been announced that there will be no English subtitles when the characters are talking in Spanish. Regarding this decision, Spielberg explained that this was done "out of respect for the inclusivity of our intentions to hire a totally Latinx cast to play the Sharks' boys and girls ... If I subtitled the Spanish I'd simply be doubling down on the English and giving English the power over the Spanish. This was not going to happen in this film, I needed to respect the language enough not to subtitle it." Spielberg has also previously been on the record disliking subtitles, believing them to be distracting, and generally avoiding the use of them in his films.

In a 2020 interview, Spielberg told Vanity Fair: "West Side Story was actually the first piece of popular music our family ever allowed into the home. I... fell completely in love with it as a kid."

On September 23, 2020, the film was delayed almost a whole year from December 18, 2020 to December 10, 2021, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

An earlier attempt to remake West Side Story (1961) occurred in 1996, when Walt Disney Pictures (which would acquire 20th Century Fox in 2019) planned to do an adaptation of it set in the 1990s. This version was to have been directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, but the plan did not come to fruition.

Made only $30 million in North America, and $55.2 million worldwide, a disastrous result considering the acclaimed movie cost $100 million to make, despite out-grossing two other live-action musical film adaptations, In the Heights (2021) and Dear Evan Hansen (2021), also released in 2021.

Stephen Sondheim, as the only one of the four creative minds behind the original show who was still living during the film's production, was involved throughout filming and after seeing the film gave it high praise. He passed away two weeks before the release.

Ariana DeBose won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing the role of Anita, Rita Moreno won the award the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing the same role in the original.

Anybodys is stated to be a trans man in this version, and is played by non-binary actor Iris Menas.

Rachel Zegler was told she beat out some staggering 30 thousand other casting hopefuls for her role.

Arthur Laurents, who wrote the original Broadway production's book, felt the 1961 film version was very flawed due to "bogus accents, bogus dialect, bogus costumes."

The lyrics at the beginning of the song "America" were altered to portray Puerto Rico in a more positive way than in the 1961 version of the song. Particularly, the lyric "always the hurricanes blowing", featured in the 1961 version, was removed, arguably to preserve sensitivities after the 2017 disaster of the Hurricane Maria (incidentally, the name of the female protagonist) in Puerto Rico.

Jeanine Tesori, the supervising vocal producer for this film's shoot, is herself an acclaimed musical theater composer and arranger. She has been nominated for several Tony Awards, including for her work on Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline, or Change, and Shrek The Musical, and she won the 2015 Tony for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre for Fun Home. She wrote Caroline, or Change with Tony Kushner, the screenwriter of this adaptation of West Side Story. She has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, although (unlike Kushner) she has never won one.

In this version, Diesel, Snowboy, and Baby John are vaguely aware that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and thus Puerto Ricans are also American citizens.

A significant difference with the Sharks is that they were formed to defend their community from the harassment and petty crimes of the Jets, and are considered to be heroes by the Puerto Ricans.

The remake has several former Billy Elliots in the cast. They are veterans of both the Broadway production and the national tour. David Alvarez (Bernardo) is one of the original Broadway, Tony Award winning Billys. Ben Cook (Mouthpiece) played Tall Boy on Broadway, and went on to play Billy in the US National Tour. Julian Elia (Tiger), and Myles Erlick (Snowboy) were both replacement Billys on Broadway. Daniel Patrick Russell (Jet) played Billy in Melbourne Australia, and in the US National Tour.

According to the script, Tony and Riff are supposed to be 18. Ansel Elgort was 25 and Mike Faist was 27 when the film was made. Ironically, they were both older than Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn respectively, when the original film was shot in 1960. Richard Beymer was 22 and Russ Tamblyn was 25.

The film's costume designer, Paul Tazewell became the first male African American to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for his work on the film.

Tony Kushner's script also gives more focus to the individual Sharks, who, outside of Bernardo and to a much lesser extent Chino, were much more out of focus compared to the Jets in previous versions.

Marks Oscar-winning Polish cinematographer Janusz Kaminski's 15th feature with Steven Spielberg as director. Their first collaboration began with Schindler's List (1993). Oscar-winning editor Michael Kahn marks his 25th joint venture with Spielberg, having first edited his Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

David Alvarez came out of retirement from acting to work with Steven Spielberg.

In the 1961 version of West Side Story most of the people playing Puerto Ricans were not. The two main characters Bernardo and Maria were played by a Greek American man and Russian American Woman. In the adaptation almost 2/3 of the cast playing Puerto Ricans are while the rest are of Latino/Latina heritage.

Rachel Zegler's feature film debut.

The film's December 10, 2021 release date comes one day before Rita Moreno's 90th birthday and eight days before Steven Spielberg's 75th birthday.

Some sound elements were recorded/mixed on Twentieth Century Fox's "Robert Wise Stage" in Los Angeles. Robert Wise was the director of West Side Story (1961).

David Alvarez (Bernardo) is Cuban-Canadian.

Steven Spielberg explained that the balcony scene is designed to remind Tony of being in prison, being blocked from seeing or touching Maria by metal obstacles, like jail bars.

This is the second time Steven Spielberg has produced a remake of a film directed by Robert Wise. He previously produced The Haunting (1999). West Side Story (1961) also featured Russ Tamblyn.

Final film of Doreen Montalvo.

After the movie's theater run ended by May 2022, it had garnered a worldwide box office of 76 million, one hundred thousand plus dollars.

In an episode of How to with John Wilson (2020), there are scenes where the streets of New York are dressed to be the set of "West Side Story" during filming.

Russ Tamblyn (Riff in the 1961 film) loved the film and Mike Faist's portrayal of Riff.

Most of the Latino actors from the film reprise their roles in the Latin American and European Spanish dubs.

Ben Cook plays Mouthpiece here, and also played Riff in the latest Broadway revival, which he did after shooting this movie but before the film had come out. He was only part of the already short lived production for a bit though, as an injury caused him to back out early on.

Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner previously worked together on Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). They are also working together on the upcoming film The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (2026) and The Fabelmans (2022).

In the song "Gee, Officer Krupke," the Jets parody the various interpretations of their gang's behavior that they have heard from law enforcement, judges, psychologists, social workers, and so on. In one of the verses, A-rab jokes, "In my opinion, this child don't need to have his head shrunk at all. Juvenile delinquency is purely a social disease." Action says "Hey, I got a social disease!" and A-rab responds, "so take him to a social worker!" Later in the song, they pick up the "social disease" theme: "Gee, Officer Krupke / We're down on our knees / 'Cause no one wants a fellow / with a social disease." What viewers of West Side Story's original 1950s production would have understood (but what may be lost on viewers of the 2021 movie) is that "social disease" is an antiquated slang euphemism for what is now known as a sexually transmitted infection (e.g., syphilis, gonorrhea, etc.). So the show's original audiences would have understood that the Jets were making an off-color facetious reference to sexual activity, albeit in an oblique way that would have passed muster with the censors of the mid-1950s.

Because Rita Moreno also won an Oscar for playing Anita in the original film and Ariana DeBose won for playing Anita in this film, this is the third time that sets of actors have won Oscars for playing the same character in separate movies. The other instances were Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, respectively, and Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight and Joker, respectively.

The rumble scene took the longest to film, it was filmed over a total of 6 days. One of the reasons being was that Mike Faist had to be stabbed numerous times to find the right scene to be used. Each day was a 12 hour shoot going from 6PM to 6AM. It was also the most emotional scene to film because the entire cast was on set crying during each take as Mike Faist started crying to make the scene more real.

The musical and 1961 film's scripts were both full of made up slang used by the Jets that sounds like complete Narm in the modern day. Tony Kushner's screenplay for this film removes all of it and uses more timeless dialogue.

The first remake of a previous Oscar-winning Best Picture to be nominated for the same award since Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).

The styling of the original Robert Wise film was set at the time of the films production, 1961. This version sets the clock back 10 years to around 1951, a time closer to the street gang era of the story.

This is Steven Spielberg's first remake since War of the Worlds (2005).

This film is longer than the 1961 original version by three minutes.

In the 1961 version, it was not mentioned on how Tony abandoned the Jets, all is said was he got a new job and new responsibilities. In this version, it is mentioned by Riff that he was in prison and is currently on parole which gets violated because he kills Bernardo in the rumble.

The large tanks which loom over some scenes represent Consolidated Edison's West 65th Street Works. The gas tanks have been replaced by Con Ed's Energy Control Center.

The film has received rapturous acclaim from both critics and audiences alike, receiving boatloads of awards nominations, with many stating in some ways it might even be superior to Robert Wise's/Jerome Robbins' hallowed, Oscar sweeping, pop culture landmark '61 adaptation. This did not, however, translate to success at the box office, as in its first weekend it grossed a little over $10 million, against a $100 million budget. The heavily-anticipated Spider-Man: No Way Home coming out a week later, combined with the increasing spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, would hamper its performance even further.

Doreen Montalvo, who briefly appears in "America" as one of the protesters, died in October 2020.

In this version Maria works in Gimbel's department store. Gimbel's features as the rival store to Macy's in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) which starred Natalie Wood who played Maria in West Side Story (1961).

Released a few weeks after the 60th anniversary of the Robert Wise film (October 18, 1961), a few days after the 40th anniversary of Natalie Wood's death (November 29, 1981) and the day before the 90th birthday of Rita Moreno.

Of the 5 main leads, Mike Faist was the last one to be cast. Steven Spielberg had to start the whole filming of the movie a few days late because he wanted to make sure Mike Faist was on board to play the part of Riff.

Steven Spielberg wanted to make this film as far back as 2014.

Tony Kushner, the screenwriter of the film, also wrote the screenplay of Steven Spielberg's film Munich (2005), which was Kushner's first work as a screenwriter.

David Alvarez (Bernardo) and Brian D'Arcy James (Officer Krupke) were both nominated for the Tony Awards' Best Actor in a Musical in 2009 - Alvarez as one of the Billy Elliot's in Billy Elliot and D'Arcy James as Shrek in Shrek. The award ultimately was won by Alvarez (along with fellow Billy Elliot actors Trent Kowalik and Kiril Kulish).

Eight cast members have appeared in either the Broadway or the touring cast of Disney's Newsies. On Broadway Mike Faist (Riff) played Morris Delancey/Mike/Jack Kelly understudy, Kyle Coffman (Ice) played Henry, Jess LeProtto (A-Rab) played Buttons, Garett Hawe (Skink) played Albert, Jacob Guzman (Junior) played Sniper, David Guzman (Tino) played Mush, and John Michael Fiumara (Big Deal) played Specs. Ben Cook (Mouthpiece) played Racetrack in the Newsies touring cast. In addition, Tobin Ost, who received a Tony nomination for Best Scenic Design for Newsies, was also involved in the film. Following the film's seven Oscar nominations, the official Facebook page for Disney's Newsies posted a congratulatory message to the musical's alumni.

West Side Story is based on "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare. It is a loose adaptation, but this version contains a direct reference not in previous versions. In the famous "balcony scene" (portrayed on the fire escape), Maria calls Tony back and then says, "I forgot why I called you." Tony responds, "I'll wait till you remember." This is a direct reference to the Shakespeare play where Juliet calls Romeo, and then says, "I have forgot why I did call thee back." Romeo responds, "Let me stay here till thou remember it."

West Side Story (1961) was directed by Robert Wise, who later directed The Andromeda Strain (1971), which was based on a Michael Crichton novel. Steven Spielberg actually met Crichton on the set of that film, which would later play a part in him adapting Crichton's novels in Jurassic Park (1993) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997).

Released just six months after the film adaptation of another iconic stage musical centered on struggles in a Hispanic neighborhood of New York City, In the Heights. Both actually share some filming locations.

While Tony is stated to be of Polish descent, Ansel Elgort is Russian on his father's side and Norwegian, English, and German on his mother's.

Awards-wise, both female leads have won an award for their work on this movie. Rachel Zegler won the Golden Globe for Lead Actress In A Musical/Comedy and Ariana DeBose won the Golden Globe for Supporting Actress In A Musical/Comedy and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The three male leads: Ansel Elgort, David Alvarez and Mike Faist didnt receive any nominations at all.

The "Cool" segment was the very first scene filmed. It took a total of three days to film.

Between this version and the original 1961 version, this version gives us a small mention of Riff's dad. He is mentioned by the bartender in the gun buying scene after Riff puts his forehead on the gun itself.

The first Steven Spielberg-directed film from 20th Century Studios to have the studio's production logo play normally with its fanfare at the beginning of the film since Lincoln (2012), after being sped up and kept silent on Bridge of Spies (2015) and The Post (2017).

Kevin Csolak, Ben Cook, and Jonalyn Saxer were all ensemble members of the original Broadway cast of "Mean Girls".

Just like its predecessor, this film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture. The only category this film won was for Best Supporting Actress for Ariana DeBose. Another difference between both is for the original version there was a Best Supporting Actor nomination, which was won by George Chakiris (Bernardo in 1961 version). Both films as well didnt have nominations for Best Lead Actor or Best Lead Actress.

One of Steven Spielberg's first films, 1941 (1979) originally was going to be a musical.

Ariana DeBose is the first actress and the third performer overall to win an Academy Award for a Steven Spielberg-directed performance (leading or supporting) after Daniel Day-Lewis and Mark Rylance. Day-Lewis won Best Actor for Lincoln (2012) and Rylance won Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies (2015).

After West Side Story (1961), this is the second adaptation of the musical to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. However, unlike its predecessor, it didn't win the category, losing to Coda.

The original stage version of Maria's song "I Feel Pretty" included the lyrics "I feel pretty and witty and bright / And I pity / Any girl who isn't me tonight." In the 1961 film this night scene was changed to the daytime, and presumably for this reason, the rhyming words "bright" and "tonight" were changed to "gay" and "today." The 2021 movie moved this scene back to the nighttime and restored the stage version's original lyrics.

The first film adaptation of this musical to receive an MPAA rating. Steven Spielberg's version is rated PG-13, while West Side Story (1961) has not received a rating.

Emma Stone, Kristen Bell, and Jennifer Lawrence were rumored for roles, but those rumors were debunked.

Mike Faist didn't receive either nomination for a Golden Globe or Academy Award for his portrayal as Riff for this film, which garnered a lot of fan outrage because a lot of fans really liked how he portrayed the character. Social media posts were all saying Mike Faist was overlooked and got ripped off. The only nomination he got for this movie was for the BAFTAs which he did not win.

The first 20th Century Studios film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, following the studio's rebranding by The Walt Disney Company in 2020.

The scene where Riff tries to convince Tony to go to the dance is different from the 1961 version. In that version, they are talking outside the store while in this version they talk in the basement and inside the store, the scene is also much longer by about three minutes which explains why this version runs three minutes longer than the original. Another difference between both versions is that in this one, it happens at night, in the 1961 version, the conversation is during the day. Also, in this version, we find out more backstory of Tony and Riff's friendship including why Tony decided to reform from the Jets.

In the end credits, Rita Moreno is credited with the "With" credit and Rachel Zegler is credited with the "And Introducing" credit.

While Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the USA, Rachel Zegler doesn't have a background from there (she's of Colombian and Polish descent).

It was speculated that Camila Cabello had won the role of Maria after she posted a photo of Claire Danes as Juliet in Romeo + Juliet (1996) on Twitter during the time that casting took place. This movie is, of course, a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet with Maria being an updated version of Juliet. Rachel Zegler was eventually cast, but Cabello did go on to lead a movie musical of her own, as she starred in Amazon's Cinderella (2021).

Rita Moreno starred in the original West Side Story (1961) and in this remake. Steven Spielberg had done the same in his previous remake War of the Worlds (2005), which featured original The War of the Worlds (1953) actors Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.

West Side Story (1961) featured future Twin Peaks (1990) cast members Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn. Steven Spielberg once tried to direct an episode, but had to withdraw due to scheduling issues. He has worked with several Twin Peaks cast members himself: Don S. Davis in Hook (1991), Laura Dern in Jurassic Park (1993), and Ian Abercrombie in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). Jurassic Park III (2001), which he produced, also featured Téa Leoni, then-wife of Twin Peaks cast member David Duchovny.

This is Mike Faist's second movie musical based off of a Broadway show. The first being Dear Evan Hansen.

Steven Spielberg and Robert Wise, who directed West Side Story (1961), both directed a film starring Richard Attenborough. Wise directed him in The Sand Pebbles (1966), and Spielberg did so in Jurassic Park (1993). Attenborough also appeared in Miracle on 34th Street (1994) which, like this film, is a remake of a film that starred Natalie Wood.

West Side Story (1961) featured John Astin as Glad Hand, the social worker who officiates the dance. Astin appeared in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), which Steven Spielberg produced. Spielberg also produced The Goonies (1985) which starred Sean Astin.

This is Ansel Elgort's second film to be based on a love story from a book/novel. The first being The Fault In Our Stars.

Unlike the 1961 original end credits where the two leads are credited first, they are credited first and last. Also, it doesnt start with the "Starring" credit. The order of the credits goes as follows: Ansel Elgort, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Brian D'Arcy James, Corey Stoll, "With" Rita Moreno "And Introducing" Rachel Zegler

Of the films nominated for Best Director at the Oscars, this is the only film that was not written or co-written by its director, and also the only one not nominated for its Screenplay.

If you dont count the Tonight (Quintet) scene, the only scene in which Riff and Maria appear together onscreen is the school dance. In fact, in that scene, they do not even introduce each other.

Not counting Tony, there are 14 Jets if you include Riff. The original 1961 version had 11.

Original cast members Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn later appeared on Twin Peaks (1990) with Miguel Ferrer and, in its 2017 revival, Laura Dern. Ansel Elgort appeared in The Fault in Our Stars (2014) with Dern and Nat Wolff, who appeared in The Stand (2020) in a role originally played by Ferrer.

The 1961 film featured Rita Moreno as Anita, and John Astin in a small role. It also won Best Picture. John Astin's son, Sean Astin, appeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), which also won Best Picture. Bilbo Baggins was played in that film by Ian Holm, who had previously appeared as Frodo in a radio production. Moreno and Holm also both shared scenes with their respective successors, Ariana DeBose and Elijah Wood.

The chocolate bar that Riff steals from the store after his conversation with Tony is a Milky Way.

Despite the fact that this was filmed in Panavision (anamorphic), "Filmed with Panavision Cameras and Lenses" is listed in the end credits.

Singer Anitta was offered an audition but declined as she was focused on her music career.

Despite Natalie wood recording all her songs she was then replaced by Marnie Nixon, Natalie had given written permission for Marnie to replace her singing but had been reassured it would only be on the high notes which Rita Moreno couldn't reach. On the low notes in such as A Boy Like That Betty Wand was used, Rosanno Brazzi was dubbed by George Tootsie an operatic singer,

Rita Moreno claimed that her most difficult scene was when Valentina (Doc - Ned Glass - in the 1961 film) saves Anita from being assaulted in the candy store, due to having originally played the same scene as Anita and responded same dialogue from Valentina/Doc. It was only with greatest difficulty that Moreno was able to stay in character as Valentina and not flub the take out of disassociation.

When the bartender aims the gun at Riff, it wasn't scripted for him to place his head against the barrel, but a moment that actor Mike Faist improvised. The production crew loved it, as they felt it perfectly fit their version of Riff's character. Even former Riff actor Russ Tamblyn gave it high praises.

The song "I Feel Pretty" is here presented faithfully to the musical after the rumble has taken place and Riff and Bernardo have been killed. The song takes on dramatic irony in the context of Maria being unaware of what has happened. West Side Story (1961) moved the song to before the rumble in order to remove the irony and play the song lighthearted. Lyricist Stephen Sondheim has since advocated removing the song from productions entirely, believing it slows down the pacing, and that the intended irony is lost. Both Sondheim and director Steven Spielberg considered cutting the song from the film, but were convinced otherwise by screenwriter Tony Kushner.

The last shot of the film is very similar to the final shot of West Side Story (1961), in which the camera pulls back to a high angle and the last action seen in long shot before fading to black is Chino's arrest.

The story is based on Romeo and Juliet, the only difference is that the female lead survives at the end. Each of the characters represent a character from Romeo and Juliet. Riff represents Mercutio who is the first to be killed. Bernardo represents Tybalt who kills Riff just like how Tybalt kills Mercutio. Tony represents Romeo who kills Bernardo just like Romeo does to Tybalt out of revenge and Maria represents Juliet who unlike Juliet survives in the end instead of killing herself.

The scene in which Tony is shot by Chino is completely different from the 1961 version. In that version, Tony is shot once as soon as he hugs Maria. In this version, he is shot twice, the first shot makes him run faster towards Maria hoping to hug her and the second shot makes him fall to the ground in front of Maria. The ending of the scene remains unchanged as Chino gets arrested.

Just like the 1961 version, the movie timeline is approximately a span of 2 days. Day 1: both gangs are introduced, Tony and Riff talk in the store basement, Tony and Maria meet, the deal for the rumble is made. Day 2: Tony promises Maria he will stop the rumble, the rumble ends the lives of Riff and Bernardo, Tony and Maria plan to run away, Chino seeks revenge on Tony, Anita gets attacked by the Jets, Tony is shot by Chino, dies in Maria's arms, Chino is arrested. The second day has more events because the first day just introduces all the characters and tells their backstories.

The last scene to be filmed was the scene in which Anita sees the bodies of both Riff and Bernardo at the police station. Both Mike Faist and David Alvarez were actually emotional filming this scene despite having no dialogue because it shows their characters final appearance in the movie.

Riff's death is foretold approximately three times in the film. First time is by Lieutenant Schrank (after the opening fight sequence and before the Jet Song sequence) when he mentions to Riff that if he doesn't change his ways it will cost him. Second time is in the gun buying scene when Riff utters the line "I was born to die young" and the third and final time is before the Cool sequence when Riff utters the same line to Tony.

Even though Riff buys the gun, neither he nor Tony fires it once throughout the whole movie. The only time it is fired is when Chino shoots Tony in the final scene.

If you go by screentime for all the characters, Riff appears the longest throughout the movie despite dying two thirds into it. Tony doesn't make his first on screen appearance until about 17 minutes into the movie.

Tony's final word he speaks before dying is "Maria".

Riff's final words to Tony before dying in his arms was "It's okay, its okay, take it out".

This version changes the "womb to tomb" loyalty oath between Tony and Riff. The reply used from the original 1961 version was "birth to earth" but it was finally changed to the intended response which is "sperm to worm". However, the responses on who says them is reversed. Riff does say "womb to tomb" at the end of the scene but Tony doesn't reply to it after. In the basement scene, Tony says "womb to tomb" and Riff replies "sperm to worm", even though it should be the other way around. The oath remains true until the end of the movie as both characters die. They are both killed by a member of the Sharks respectively, Riff by Bernardo and Tony by Chino.

Bernardo's final words before getting stabbed by Tony was "fight back".

Riff is stabbed with Bernardo's knife just like the original version. However, Bernardo is stabbed with his own knife by Tony instead of Riff's as it occurs in the original version.

By popular belief, Tony at some point causes the deaths of Riff, Bernardo and himself in the movie with just two acts of events. Tony tries to stop Riff from fighting forcing him to turn around and head straight into Bernardo's knife. For the death of Riff, Tony kills Bernardo out of revenge causing Chino to get revenge on Tony eventually leading Tony to get shot down by him.

The death scene of Riff and Bernardo is slightly different from the 1961 version. In that version, after Riff dies, he is face down on the ground and Bernardo is facing upward. In this version, both Riff and Bernardo are facing upward. The location of the rumble is different in both as well, in this version, it's in a warehouse, in the 1961 version, they are under a highway.