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How Steven Spielberg Could Have Removed Ansel Elgort From ‘West Side Story’ Following Sexual Assault Allegations

Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock
Ansel Elgort, Steven Spielberg

It seems that audience members aren’t shelling out money to see Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of "West Side Story."

The remake of the classic musical has fallen flat in the box office, earning around $10.5 million in ticket sales from 2,820 theaters across the country.

The low ticket sales are a bit of concern considering Disney and 20th Century Studios spent $100 million to create the film.

Many people are blaming the lack of box office revenue on the fact that Ansel Elgort is one of the main leads in the film.

Elgort was previously accused of sexual assault back in 2020 after a woman came forward with allegations that she had been assaulted when she was 17 and Elgort was 20 — in 2014.

Unfortunately, this was after "West Side Story" had already been shot — though it wouldn't be released until this year.

While this is certainly unfortunate for those who worked tirelessly on the movie before the allegations were made, some fans have pointed out that it was still possible to cut Elgort from the film before its release.

Could Ansel Elgort have been removed from 'West Side Story'?

In the age of technology, anything is possible — including re-casting a movie that has already been shot. 

RELATED: Ansel Elgort’s Return To Screen In ‘West Side Story’ Brings Up Past Sexual Assault Allegations

Some sources have estimated that it would have cost an extra $2 to $3 million dollars to reshoot Elgort's scenes. 

Kevin Spacey and Chris D'Elia were edited out of movies after their sexual abuse allegations. 

The removal of a controversial actor from a movie has been done before, with Kevin Spacey being cut from director Ridley Scott’s film about J. Paul Getty.

Scott reshot all of the scenes that had Spacey in them with his replacement, Christopher Plummer, after the actor had faced mulitple allegations of sexual harrassment.

It was even done by Zack Snyder for his film ‘Army of the Dead,’ in which he digitally erased Chris D’Elia and staged reshoots with Tig Notaro instead.

The decision came after D’Elia was accused by multiple women of predatory sexual behavior, some women even being underage.

RELATED: Bill Cosby’s Release Doesn’t Mean He's Innocent — Why We Should Still Believe His Victims

Zack Snyder and his wife, Deborah Snyder, who worked on the film as a producer estimate that Netflix shelled out millions of dollars to remove D’Elia and add Notaro.

So, it is possible for Elgort to have been removed from the movie, for both the success of the film and holding him accountable for his actions.

It almost seems as if Spielberg along with the rest of the crew that had the power to request additional money to edit out Elgort didn’t care enough.

Now, they might be paying the price as the movie struggle to perform at the box office. 

The actor hadn’t been charged with any crime, but the throes of accountability and cancel culture seemed to force him into hiding — until the release of ‘West Side Story.’

Many people on social media were outraged to see the confirmation of Elgort starring in the film, saying it was unfair for him to be given a platform.

Though, it seems the outrage has translated to the disappointing success of the musical.

Ansel Elgort has not spoken on the allegations while promoting 'West Side Story.' 

Elgort is still doing press, albeit not as much as his other costars, but he did appear on ‘The Late Late Show with James Corden’ on Dec. 8, talking highly of his new film.

Corden didn’t ask Elgort any questions about his sexual assault allegations, which isn’t surprising, and it’s a seemingly harmless interview.

Elgort also appeared the New York City premiere for the film, walking the red carpet and doing short interviews with reporters, outwardly trying to pretend that he wasn’t accused of sexual assault.

In addition he appeared on ‘The Drew Barrymore Show,’ presented at the American Music Awards, and has given more press interviews for the film.

Elgort hasn’t done an in-depth interview as the main star of ‘West Side Story,’ he hasn’t done a profile or cover story for a magazine, and he’s stayed off of Twitter, only briefly promoting the film on his Instagram.

It almost seems as if he’s aware of how carefully he has to tread, or at least his team is aware. 

But, despite the carefulness, it isn’t enough to save a $100 million budget film, and the only people to blame are the ones who refused to use the options of taking Ansel Elgort out.

Elgort has denied the sexual assault allegations against him.

The woman had posted her story to Twitter, where it eventually went viral, explaining that she had messaged Elgort over social media.

“I was just a kid and was a fan of him,” she wrote of the incident. “So when it happened, instead of asking me if I wanted to stop having sex, knowing it was my first time and I was sobbing in pain and I didn’t want to do it, the only words that came out of his mouth were ‘we need to break you in.'”

Elgort, now 27, posted a statement to his Instagram following the allegations, claiming that he did have a “brief, legal, and entirely consensual relationship” with the woman.

He admitted to ghosting her after they were no longer together, saying that it was “an immature and childish thing to do to someone.”

Elgort promptly denied the sexual assault claims, debunking the woman’s statement, but the damage had seemingly already been done.

RELATED: Man Accusing CNN's Don Lemon Of Sexual Assault Claims Behavior Could Be Part Of A 'Pattern' Of Abuse

Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.

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