The highly anticipated film adaptation of the Broadway musical “Mean Girls” led the weekend box office, bringing in an impressive $32 million in its opening frame. But critical reception has been somewhat polarized.
Big Box Office Debut
“Mean Girls” took the top spot at the box office in its first weekend, beating out action thriller “The Beekeeper” starring Jason Statham which came in second with $28 million. Variety reports that the Tina Fey-produced musical raked in $32 million over the extended 4-day MLK Jr. weekend frame. While a solid debut, some analysts predicted it would top $40 million.
The film adaptation has big shoes to fill following the success of the original 2004 teen comedy which earned $129 million globally. Fortune notes that interest has been high for the updated take featuring new and returning cast members reprising their roles from the Broadway musical version. Social media buzz and nostalgia likely fueled opening weekend ticket sales.
Musical Numbers Fall Flat
While the box office results were strong, critical reception has been mixed. Many reviewers enjoyed the performances and humor but felt the musical numbers disrupted the flow rather than enhancing the story.
Vulture writes that the songs “feel shoehorned in, disrupting the narrative thrust” and range from “forgettable to mildly embarrassing.” Slate argues the original film worked so well because it moved briskly without breaking for “awkward musical interludes.”
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Some more positive reviews highlighted the ensemble cast and clever updates to the story. IGN called it “joyfully nostalgic” while praising Angourie Rice’s lead performance. But most agreed the musical numbers disrupt the pacing.
Updating a Classic for Today’s Teens
Part of the challenge adapting Mean Girls for 2024 audiences was keeping the story fresh and relatable for today’s teenagers. Directors told The Hollywood Reporter they wanted to retain the core themes about toxic social hierarchies in high school but explore more modern issues like social media bullying and gender identity.
By bringing back familiar characters from the Broadway musical version, the movie aims to appeal to fans of the original while speaking to Gen Z. The LGBTQ representation is more overt with Janis identifying as queer. The directors said these updates felt crucial for resonating with young people today dealing with identity struggles amid intense societal pressures.
Whether the topical changes and musical numbers improve upon the 2004 classic or feel forced is up for debate. But the box office numbers show there is still an eager audience for a “Mean Girls” update.
With North American theaters struggling to attract younger viewers, studios are banking on musical adaptations of popular film franchises to draw audiences. Upcoming movie musicals in 2024 include takes on teen classics like 13 Going On 30, Legally Blonde and Clueless.
The Atlantic posits that the modest success of Mean Girls likely means more musical reboots are inbound. But reviewers argue filmmakers should be more judicious adapting stage musicals rather than shoehorning in songs.
As for a possible “Mean Girls 2,” the post-credits scene hints that a sequel could explore deeper social issues faced by today’s teens. Lead actress Angourie Rice said she would eagerly reprise her role as Cady Heron. While Fey has not confirmed a sequel, the franchise still resonates culturally, and these iconic characters seem ripe for more exploration.
In summary, the “Mean Girls” musical film adaptation had a solid if slightly underwhelming start, signaling audience appetite for revisiting the story. But reviewers argue some crucial elements were lost translating the Broadway songs to screen. Still, studios are likely to greenlight more musical takes on popular teen properties hoping to capitalize on nostalgia and curiosity. Whether that gambit continues paying off creative dividends remains to be seen.
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