“Mean Girls” musical triumphs at the box office

The theatrical box office this holiday weekend was flooded with “Mean Girls,” and TikTok may have been at least partly responsible for its dominance.

The new PG-13-rated film, a musical rendition of the 2004 original starring Lindsay Lohan, with songs that turned the 2018 Broadway adaptation (and two national tours) into a smash hit, has grossed $28 million. dollars over the holiday weekend. The film took the top spot, beating out Jason Statham’s action film “The Beekeeper,” which grossed $16.8 million. (Paramount Pictures expects “Mean Girls” to gross $32 million when revenues from Monday’s federal holiday of Martin Luther King’s birthday are added.)

The news comes as a welcome reprieve for movie theater box offices, which have not benefited from a giant year-end blockbuster that often extends into the new year. (Last year this weekend, “Avatar: The Way of Water” grossed another $40 million in its fifth weekend.) “Mean Girls” also confirms that Paramount’s aggressive digital marketing strategies were crowned with success.

The studio has gone to great lengths to use the original film, which grossed $130 million worldwide, as the best form of promotion for this new version.

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 staple of teen sleepovers, by sharing 23 10-minute clips for a one-day marketing stunt. on the social media site.

According to Marc Weinstock, Paramount’s worldwide president of marketing and distribution, the effort 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 subscribers. .

All this for a film that, according to writer, producer and star Tina Fey, feels “like it’s been on TBS every day for 20 years.”

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

Directed by husband-wife team Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., the 2024 iteration stars Reneé Rapp as “Plastic”, Regina George and Angourie Rice as her nemesis Cady Heron, who falls under His charm. The film was originally planned for Paramount’s streaming service, but after positive test screenings over the summer, the studio opted to release the film theatrically. (Paramount opted for a similar route with 2022’s “Smile,” a meme-generating horror film that grossed $106 million domestically, and “80 for Brady,” which the studio released last February. )

The decision to release the film theatrically included an estimated $20 million in marketing costs, primarily for online promotions. In addition to promoting the film on TikTok, Paramount partnered with Uber to offer teenage girls free rides 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 from teen idol Chris Briney playing with puppies; and above all, the placement of the trailer in front of “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour”.

“I feel like the team had a very clear understanding of all 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 that teens would get two free rides to ‘Mean Girls’ in theaters this weekend. And I thought: Wow, Paramount was thorough.

So thorough in fact that the majority of people who showed up to the cinema were women between the ages of 18 and 34. The film hasn’t reached many women older than that, including those who likely saw the film when they were young, a sign that the film might have room to grow.

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

Mr. Weinstock, for his part, is certain that a wide range of ages will show up for the film. “They are fans of the franchise,” he said. “They see that and say, ‘Oh, I love my ‘Mean Girls.’ This looks enticing.’