The musical ‘Mean Girls’ triumphs at the box office

The musical ‘Mean Girls’ triumphs at the box office

This holiday weekend’s theatrical box office was awash with “Mean Girls,” and TikTok may have been at least partly responsible for its dominance.

The new PG-13-rated film, a musical interpretation of the 2004 original starring Lindsay Lohan, with songs that made the 2018 Broadway adaptation (and two national tours) a smash hit, grossed $28 million over the weekend. holiday week. The film came in first place, beating Jason Statham’s action film “The Beekeeper,” which grossed $16.8 million. (Paramount Pictures expects “Mean Girls” to reach $32 million once proceeds from Monday’s federal holiday commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday are added.)

The news was a welcome respite for the theatrical box office, which did not benefit from a year-end blockbuster that often extends into the new year. (Last year this weekend, “Avatar: The Way of Water” grossed an additional $40 million in its fifth weekend.) “Mean Girls” also offers confirmation that Paramount’s aggressive digital marketing strategies were successful.

The studio spent considerable effort using the original film, which grossed $130 million worldwide, as the best form of promotion for this remake.

On October 3, known to fans as “Mean Girls Day,” Paramount used TikTok as a platform to introduce young audiences to the cult classic, a tween sleepover staple, by sharing 23 10-minute clips to a one day marketing stunt. on the social networking site.

The effort, according to Marc Weinstock, Paramount’s worldwide president of marketing and distribution, generated 750,000 views of the entire film in its first 15 hours on the site and added 100,000 followers to the new Mean Girls TikTok account, which now has 515,000 followers. . .

All of this for a movie that, according to writer-producer-star Tina Fey, felt like it “has been on TBS every day for 20 years.”

Of TikTok’s effort, which relented during the actors’ strike and compensated the film’s actors, Weinstock said, “We thought it would be very successful, but not as successful as it was.” He attributed most of the interest to users who had never seen the original film despite its ubiquitous presence on television.

Directed by husband-and-wife team Samantha Jayne and Arturo Pérez Jr., the 2024 version stars Reneé Rapp as “Plastic” director Regina George and Angourie Rice as her enemy Cady Heron, who falls under her spell. The film was originally slated for Paramount’s streaming service, but after positive test screenings over the summer, the studio decided to bring the film to theaters. (Paramount went a similar route with “Smile” in 2022, a meme-generating horror film that grossed $106 million domestically, and “80 for Brady,” which the studio released last February.)

The decision to bring the film to theaters added about $20 million in marketing costs, mostly for online promotions. In addition to promoting the film on TikTok, Paramount partnered with Uber to offer teenage girls free trips to the movies; an Instagram takeover with Auliʻi Cravalho, the actress who plays Janis in the musical film; special Snapchat lenses and filters; a YouTube video of teen heartthrob Chris Briney playing with puppies; and, most importantly, the placement of the trailer in front of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.”

“I feel like the team has had a very clear understanding of the different types of audiences they were trying to reach and where to find them,” Ms. Fey said. “My friend’s daughter received a notification from Uber last Wednesday saying that teens will receive two free rides to ‘Mean Girls’ in theaters this weekend. And I thought, Wow, Paramount has been thorough.”

In fact, it was so thorough that the majority of people who attended the movie were women between the ages of 18 and 34. The film didn’t reach many older women, including those who likely saw the film when they were young, a sign that the film might have room to grow.

“The population over 45 years old was only 7 percent. Only 10 percent were between 35 and 44 years old,” said Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at Paramount. “So I think we have an opportunity here to serve that older audience.”

Weinstock, for his part, is confident that a wide range of ages will appear in the film. “They’re fans of the franchise,” he said. “They see this and say, ‘Oh, I love my ‘Mean Girls.’ This looks attractive.’”

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John C. Johnson

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