Acclaimed filmmaker Steven Spielberg has recently made his first musical movie, West Side Story. However, the new adaptation of the famed 1950s stage play wasn’t the first time he considered cracking out a finger-snapping film. It turns out that the family movie Hook was almost Spielberg’s first musical.
The 1991 adventure movie starring Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan returning to Neverland was originally going to be a musical. However, at the time, Spielberg said he just “wasn’t ready” to dive into the genre. In an interview with the Guardian to promote West Side Story, Spielberg explained why Hook ultimately stayed clear of catchy tunes and choreographed dance numbers.
“I chickened out after the first week of shooting and took all the songs out. It was the biggest paradigm shift I’ve ever had while directing a movie. It just didn’t seem right for some strange reason. Maybe I didn’t feel ready to do a musical,” Spielberg explained. “I was OK doing those little numbers in 1941 or Temple of Doom, and later there was a kind of zero-gravity dance to the Bee Gees in Ready Player One. I had a couple of false starts, too, with scripts that I began developing into original musicals. At some point, I decided I had to have the courage of my convictions.”
Having performed in the Disney movie musical Aladdin as the Genie, Robin Williams would have probably fit seamlessly into a singing Peter Pan role. Still, we are glad that Spielberg finally dived into the musical pool eventually. The director recently gave some advice for new filmmakers based on his own experiences in choosing what kinds of movies to tell and how to tell them.
“Don’t worry so much about technique, and don’t worry so much about where to put the camera or have a light,” Spielberg told Collider. “Worry about one thing or think about one thing, preoccupy yourself with, how do you tell a story that’s really interesting, that you can get somebody not to walk out of the room right in the middle of your second act of your telling the story?”
It seems like Spielberg’s storytelling philosophy and choice to keep Hook a non-musical feature have paid off as he continues to be one of the most celebrated filmmakers around. West Side Story is out in theatres on December 10. Fans can buy Hook through Amazon Prime for £7.99 in the UK, and $6.99 in the US.
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