Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story First Images Released With Ansel Elgort

It is very beige.

west side story.jpeg
Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Like all of us, Steven Spielberg enjoys procrastinating. In order to avoid one project, he has been known to pick up another one, make some progress, revisit an earlier concept, maybe put out a movie somewhere in there, keep feeling around for more ideas—and, meanwhile, not actually put out the project he’d originally set his sights on. (For more, please see Vulture’s complete timeline of Spielberg being indecisive.) So it was with his allegedly forthcoming West Side Story remake: He picked up the rights to the film in 2014 and proceeded to make a bunch of films that were not West Side Story, including The Post, an adaptation of The BFG, Bridge of Spies, and Ready Player One.

It wasn’t until today, Monday, June 17, a day that will go down in history, that Spielberg finally unveiled a first look at the long-incubating West Side Story with a single production still featuring the young cast. The film, slated for release on December 18, 2020, stars Ansel Elgort as Tony and newcomer Rachel Zegler, who went viral with a cover of the A Star Is Born song “Shallow,” as Maria, the star-crossed lovers transplanted to mid-20th-century New York. (West Side Story is, ultimately, a musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.)

In addition to Elgort and Zegler at the center of the image, it features the rest of the young gangsters who will star in the film. That includes Ezra Menas as Anybodys, Ben Cook as Mouthpiece, and Sean Harrison Jones as Action, all members of the Jets; Mike Faist as Riff, the Jets leader; Patrick Higgins as Baby John; David Alvarez as Bernardo, who happens to be both the leader of the Sharks and Maria’s brother; and, clustered to the right, Julius Anthony Rubio as Quique, Ricardo Zayas as Chago, Josh Andrés Rivera as Chico, Sebastian Serra as Braulio, and Carlos Sánchez Falú as Pipo, all members of the Sharks. Rounding out the cast are a few more recognizable names, including Corey Stoll and Brian D’Arcy James as well as Rita Moreno, the noted re-wearer of Oscars dresses who won an Academy Award for her role in the 1961 film adaptation of the musical and will play a gender-swapped version of Tony’s boss at the corner store.

Though we were hoping Spielberg might update the story for the 21st century—allowing Ansel Elgort to keep his DJ hypebeast image intact—the neutral color palette and costuming look straight out of the original mid-20th-century time frame. Still, the script is getting an update via playwright Tony Kushner, who wrote Angels in America as well as the screenplay for Spielberg’s Lincoln.

It might have just been one photo from the set of the film, but it’s already plenty meme-able. People have taken to bumping up the saturation and contrast levels in the dour-looking image, and comparing it to advertisements by, alternately, Everlane or Gap. See a few, below.