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The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

In The Moment: Mean Girls 2024, and the rise of “hidden” musicals in Hollywood

I’ve always loved musicals. I would make my friends play “Hairspray” on the playground at school—that is until I discovered “Hamilton.” I improvised musical shows with my stuffed animals for my younger brother to watch, and I even took singing lessons until middle school. 

One of the posters for the “Mean Girls (2024)” musical movie adaptation. The movie featured ten songs, instead of the original 21 that the musical has.

So when Tina Fey announced the “Mean Girls” movie based on the musical back in Jan. 2020, to say that I was excited would be a huge understatement. 

Then, the teaser came out in Nov. 2023, and fans were very confused to see the lack of singing in the trailer. The only music used in any of the trailers was Olivia Rodrigo’s “Get Him Back!” Regina George (played by Reneé Rapp) only briefly references the song “World Burn,” which is used at the climax of the Broadway show.

So why wasn’t there any mention of it being a musical?

Well, the short answer is that not everyone is a die-hard musical fan like I am. As soon as a movie attaches the word “musical” to a movie—whether it is in the title or even just the promotional material—many falsely assume that the film will be filled with songs and dancing and not enough moments of dialogue between characters—which would be aggravating to those who aren’t fans of the genre, if it was true. 

Of course, any musical theater lover knows that obviously, that assumption isn’t true—musical movies can range from “Les Misérables,” which is told entirely through song, to films like “Mamma Mia,” which breaks apart songs nicely with important scenes of dialogue between characters. Still, with producers assuming that the musical marketing won’t do their movie any favors in the long run, they’re ignoring the target audience of such films—fans of the musical they’re adapting. As soon as a movie like “Mean Girls (2024)” gets announced, fans have expectations and speculations on what songs will be included, how scenes that were previously done on stage will be adapted to work better on the silver screen, and who will play beloved characters—and this fake-out tactic (while it may work for the people working on the movie) ignores musical fans and feels more like a quick cash grab.

“Mean Girls (2024)” isn’t the only recent movie musical to pull a bait and switch. “The Color Purple” and “Wonka” both came out in late 2023 and were both guilty of the “secret” musical marketing tactic, shocking many at the theaters. Of course, the situation was a little different than what it is with “Mean Girls (2024),” because “Wonka” isn’t an adaptation of a Broadway musical, and while “The Color Purple” is, it is a lot older. Nevertheless, non-musical fans watching the movies were very surprised, as musical fans were once again let down.

“Mean Girls (2024)” came out on Jan. 12, and of course, being a fan of the musical, I saw it in theaters. I was disappointed to realize that a lot of the songs (including “Where Do You Belong” and “Whose House is This?”) were cut out of the movie, despite their importance to the plot. The movie’s real downfall was the amount of auto-tune used on some of the actors, only proving that the studio cared more about money and making the music “relatable” to a wider audience than pandering to fans.

No matter how much it may help ticket sales, this marketing plot alienates the audience that wants to see the movie in the first place. Studios need to stop hiding all traces of musical elements in their movies until the big day and start channeling their inner Cady Heron—go big or go home, even if someone gets hit by a bus because of it.

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About the Contributor
Ava Strzalko, Staff Reporter
Ava Strzalko is a sophomore at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. In addition to writing, she enjoys drawing, watching movies, and listening to musicals.
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