Musings & Thoughts for Sunday, January 16, 2022, or: Why Can’t I See a Movie Musical…at the Movies?

Hola, Dear Reader. It’s early afternoon here in Lithia, Florida, on Sunday. It is a gray and chilly – for the subtropics, that is – day. The current temperature is 62˚F (17˚C) under cloudy skies.  With the wind blowing from the west at 14 MPH (22 KM/H) and humidity at 79%, the wind-chill factor is 62˚F (17˚C). Today’s forecast calls for lots of wind, scattered showers, and a high of 69˚ (21˚C). Tonight, skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 56˚F (14˚C), and there will be breezes around.

As you know, yesterday I found out (via the website) that 20th Century Studios – the Walt Disney Company-owned successor to 20th Century Fox – will release Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of West Side Story, the now-classic 1957 Broadway musical by Arthur Laurents (book), Leonard Bernstein (music), and Stephen Sondheim (lyrics). Spielberg’s film is the second film adaptation of this modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, coming 60 years after Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s 1961 Academy Award-winning.

As a fan of both West Side Story and director Steven Spielberg, I had hoped to see this in a theater with friends. Alas, Fate had other ideas.

I had hoped to see it in theaters – in theory, I could; it’s still in some Tampa Bay theaters – ever since it opened last month. But worries about catching COVID-19 despite being vaccinated, in addition to reluctance by the Caregiver and her gravely ill significant other, make going to the movies accompanied nearly impossible. I could – also in theory – go by myself via Lyft or Uber (I have no idea if the local HART public bus system has routes from Fish Hawk to Riverview, which is the closest theater to the house).but I am hesitant. I’ve never been excessively bold when it comes to new-to-me modes of transportation, and even though most Uber or Lyft drivers are harmless, I don’t want to win the crazy psycho driver lottery and end up in the local news, if you get my meaning.

So, just as I suspected a month ago, I will have to see West Side Story on home media, just as I have seen every live-action, non-Walt Disney musical.

South Pacific was released in 1958, five years before I even drew my first breath.
I still wasn’t around in 1961…..

It’s strange to me that in my 52 years of going to the movies, I have yet to see a full-blown live-action movie musical in an honest-to-goodness theater. I have not done so because:

  • Most of the movie adaptations of stage musicals or, in rare cases, original musical movies that I like were made either before I was born (South Pacific, the Robbins/Wise West Side Story) or when I was too young to appreciate musicals(The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof)
  • No one in my close circle – either friends or relatives – is a fan of the genre. I remember that when Fiddler on the Roof, which was originally released in 1971, was re-released in 1979 in an edited version, I couldn’t get my mom or my half-sister to take me. (To be fair, they were both working; Mom in the cafeteria staff at Miami Sunset High, and Vicky at what was then American Hospital.) There weren’t any theaters near East Wind Lake Village then, so I was, in military slang, Shit Outta Luck
I was two years old when this movie premiered in 1965. I saw it on TV a few times as a kid, and I have it on Blu-ray/DVD, but I have yet to see it in a theater.

To recap, except for Disney animated musicals a la The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and The Lion King, I have yet to catch a fully-musical feature film at a movie house.

Although some skeptics might think “Disney” is rushing West Side Story to home media because it did not do as well in the box office as the studio hoped, the time of its release – it goes on pre-order on February 1, and it has a “street” or “ship” date of March 15 – is par for the course for Blu-ray/digital releases. Every new Star Wars film that opened in December between 2015 and 2019 was released within three to four months after its theatrical run ended.

In any case, I’m buzzed about knowing, more or less, when I can own, and see, Spielberg’s take on West Side Story.

As usual, I don’t have any other news to share, so I’ll close for now, Dear Reader. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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