West Side Story is a 1961 American musical romantic drama movie directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins . The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name , which William Shakespeare ‘s play Romeo and Juliet . It stars Natalie Wood , Richard Beymer , Russ Tamblyn , Rita Moreno , and George Chakiris , and was photographed by Daniel L. Fapp , ASC, in Super Panavision 70. Released on October 18, 1961, United Artists , the film received high praise from critics and viewers, and became the second highest grossing film in the United States. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and Won 10, including Best Picture (as a special award for Robbins), becoming the record holder for the most wins for a musical movie.