The long-awaited musical adaptation of the 2004 teen comedy classic “Mean Girls” finally hit theaters this weekend, clawing its way to the top box office spot with an estimated $32 million in ticket sales. After years of anticipation from fans, the updated take on the Tina Fey penned film is being hailed as a “joyous” and “infectiously fun” celebration of the biting satire that introduced moviegoers to the infamous Plastics 20 years ago.
Smash Hit Opening Weekend Exceeds Expectations
Defying industry projections, “Mean Girls” took in a mighty $32.1 million over the extended 4-day MLK Jr weekend frame. The debut surpassed recent comparable movie musical openings like 2021’s “Dear Evan Hansen” ($19.3M) and 2017’s “The Greatest Showman” ($27.3M), proving the continued popularity of the teen classic.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the film is also poised to leverage the star-crossed romance at its core for a lengthy theatrical run.
|Total Domestic Gross
|Mean Girls (2024)
|Dear Evan Hansen (2021)
|The Greatest Showman (2017)
“We are thrilled that audiences have embraced ‘Mean Girls’ with as much passion as we have,” said director Samantha Jayne. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see how much this story still resonates, and that fans trust us to bring it to new heights.”
The family-friendly PG-13 rating likely helped draw broad appeal across multiple demographics beyond the core Gen Z fans. PostTrak surveys show a fairly even split in audience composition:
- 56% Female
- 57% Age 25+
- 73% Rating the film “Excellent” or “Very Good”
Without any major competition in theaters, “Mean Girls” was easily able to dominate screens and attention spans. It played broadly across 3,402 locations, earning an impressive $9,436 per theater average.
Buzz and Critical Response
Critics and influencers helped fuel interest in the remake online leading up to opening weekend:
“The musical adaptation brings the comedy into 2024 with style, laughs, and alarmingly catchy songs. Don’t pretend you won’t know all the lyrics after one viewing.” – TIME Magazine
“Mean Girls manages to honor its legacy, while also feeling modern, fresh and compelling in its own right. The soundtrack slaps hard.” – @alissamarie on Twitter
Reviews from top outlets remain overwhelmingly positive as well, with a critics score of 89% on RottenTomatoes.
However, a minority of critics felt the remake failed to live up to nostalgia of the still much-beloved original:
“Try as it might, the musical update lacks the magic and bite of Tina Fey’s 2004 comedy masterpiece.” – Seattle Times
Story and Character Updates
SPOILER WARNING – Some key plot points discussed below!
The remake hews closely to the bones of the iconic movie, while introducing songs and tweaking relationships:
Cady Heron (played by Angourie Rice) moves to the United States for high school after being home schooled in Africa. She struggles to navigate the tricky social hierarchies of North Shore High School.
She eventually gets taken under the wing of The Plastics, the school’s reigning popular clique consisting of Queen Bee Regina George (Sophia Anne Caruso), Gretchen Wieners (Ashley De La Rosa), and Karen Smith (Megan Masako Haley).
Cady also becomes close friends with outcasts Janis Ian (Vy Tran) and Damian Hubbard (Ryan Drummond), who convince her to help take down The Plastics from the inside.
Major changes help update the storyline for modern audiences:
Janis’s character is overtly bisexual, exploring her interest in girls for the first time. Her crush on Cady becomes more central to the plot.
More emphasis placed on damaging impacts of gossip and social media bullying. The Burn Book features heavily.
North Shore High School updated to be more visibly diverse in race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
While fan favorite Lindsay Lohan did not join the core cast, she does make a show-stopping cameo in the film’s climax for a meta peek behind the curtain. Early previews suggested Rachel McAdams might reprise her role as Regina George, so Lohan’s brief appearance came as an exciting surprise for opening weekend crowds.
Strong Word-of-Mouth: As more tweens/teens experience the musical adaptation over coming weeks, expect buzz to continue building exponentially via social media. The soundtrack made major gains on Spotify over opening weekend as fans instantly replayed catchy tracks.
Oscar Hopes: If momentum continues, “Mean Girls” has a shot at some Oscar attention when nominations get announced on January 24th. Costume design and adapted screenplay nods feel within reach given industry reception so far.
Expanding To More Markets: After the domestic early success, studio heads plan to accelerate distribution for key international markets like China, Japan, UK and Australia to maximize revenue .
Potential Sequel? Given the exciting re-introduction to wider consciousness, rumors have already begun swirling regarding potential sequels or spinoffs extending the “Mean Girls” universe. Only time will tell which direction the creative minds choose. But Tina Fey already has ideas: “I see it being turned into a Marvel franchise with Madelaine Petsch as a flaming Fire Plastic seeking revenge.”
The phenomenal early box office reign of “Mean Girls” proves audiences can’t get enough of the Machiavellian world of North Shore’s teen royalty. Whether you love the musical glitz or miss the biting humor of the original, fans nationwide are reveling in the nostalgia and antics all over again on the big screen.
Fetch may never happen, but this musical reboot sure did!
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