Steven Spielberg has wanted to make a movie musical since he was a child — specifically he wanted to do his own spin on the popular 1957 Broadway hit West Side Story after falling in love with the stage production’s soundtrack.
Sixty-plus years and 32 features later, Spielberg premiered his West Side Story on Monday for a fawning New York City audience, with the film immediately drawing loud Oscar buzz for the 74-year-old director and his collaborators.
So now that he’s conquered the world of song-and-dance, what could be left for the visionary filmmaker who has given us sci-fi (E.T., War of the Worlds), thrillers (Jaws, Jurassic Park), adventures (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Adventures of Tintin), war films (Saving Private Ryan, War Horse), historical dramas (Schindler’s List, Lincoln), contemporary dramas (The Post) and so much more?
“I was asked that question over the last 40 years of my career, if not longer, and I always say, ‘A musical is the one thing I haven’t done.’ The thing I neglected to say is the one genre I haven’t really tackled yet is the Western,” Spielberg told Yahoo Entertainment during a virtual interview Tuesday.
“So who knows? Maybe I’ll be putting on spurs someday. Who knows?”
Told his comments are going to bring an onslaught of pitches from Hollywood creatives and execs eager to work with him, Spielberg acknowledges as much.
“I’ve got a few in development right now, but who’s to say which are going to spring to the forefront, I don’t know.”
It’s anyone’s guess what Western those could be. Of the 30-plus titles Spielberg has listed as “in development” (mostly as a producer) on IMDbPro — including sequels to Gremlins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Real Steel, new adaptations of The Grapes of Wrath and The Color Purple, and biopics about George Gershwin and Walter Cronkite — none are identified as Westerns.
Spielberg has produced in the genre before with the 2005 miniseries Into the West, which followed two families — one white, one Native American — during the American Expansion. He was also an executive producer on Marty McFly’s romp through 1885 in Back to the Future Part III.
But his potential pivot to the Wild West after West Side Story makes perfect sense, especially as the once-thought-dead genre has crept back into the cinematic zeitgeist over the past 15 to 20 years with critical and award-contenting hits like 3:10 to Yuma (2007), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), True Grit (2010) and Django Unchained (2012).
Netflix alone has released two high-profile Westerns this fall with Jeymes Samuel’s The Harder They Fall and Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, the latter considered an early favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
West Side Story opens Friday, Dec. 10.
Watch the trailer: