Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Post - Athens, OH
The independent newspaper covering campus and community since 1911.
The Post

Movie musicals fail to market themselves as musicals

A recent viral video on social media consists of a room full of theater-goers watching the 2024 reboot of the 20-year-old teen flick “Mean Girls.”

The viewers groaned and laughed as the main character Cady, broke into song, signifying that the audience was dissatisfied with the film’s musical element.

The "Mean Girls" reboot is a movie musical based on the musical of the same name, which is based on the movie of the same name, then based on the book "Queen Bees and Wannabes.” But audiences weren't fully aware that this newest rendition was a movie musical due to its marketing. 

Trailers lacked that important detail, and it wasn't the first to do it, as other recent releases like "Wonka” and "The Color Purple” used the same tactic. Not everyone who went to see Timothée Chalamet as the famous Roald Dahl character expected him to belt out a tune, either. But ultimately, the trick proved to be successful, as "Wonka" made over $507 million with its $125 million budget

This new marketing trend hasn’t come out of nowhere; the past few years of movie musicals have included box office flops, shoddy criticism and low audience scores. 

There was a time when a movie musical could do tremendously well at the box office, whether it was a Broadway adaptation or an original screenplay. Films like "La La Land," "A Star is Born" and "The Greatest Showman” created an everlasting impression on viewers, and filmmakers are consistently trying to reach this type of high again. 

Yet, in this modern era of turning musicals into films, producing them costs more and more. Within the past five years, most movie musicals in theaters have not been making most of that money back. 

Granted, many were released during the COVID-19 pandemic when every other movie was also struggling to stay alive. However, the movie musical genre itself has suffered the most with flop after flop. Whether or not these films received high critics and audience scores, a glaring problem persisted, which resulted in a broken age of the movie musical genre.

A starting point in this particular era was the disappointment in the late 2019 installment of "Cats." Despite a star-studded cast, like Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson and Idris Elba, the film's jarring CGI was enough to turn most viewers off and received 19% on Rotten Tomatoes

In 2021, when theaters began to open up again, a myriad of musicals were set to release. One of the first that was released was "In the Heights," the multi-Tony award-winning musical. Though the film garnered high-rated reviews, scoring 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film failed to hit its box office goal

Another release this year was the modern musical "Dear Evan Hansen," which received a pleasant "A-" CinemaScore. However, that didn't stop the film from being rated 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and becoming yet another box office flop. A driving factor could have been the controversial casting choice of 27-year-old Ben Platt to play a teenage boy. 

Director Joe Wright, known for literary adaptations like “Pride and Prejudice,” released “Cyrano” this same year. “Cyrano” was liked by audiences, as seen in its 85% Rotten Tomatoes audience score. However, unlike his other literary adaptations, Wright's film only made $6.3 million out of a budget of $30 million

Steven Spielberg's “West Side Story” finished in 2021. It earned a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, similar to the original 1961 rendition.  However, the film's $10.5 million opening was nowhere near surpassing its $100 million budget

Even some of the movie musicals that came out on streaming did not hit the mark. Camila Cabello starred in the 2021 readaptation of "Cinderella,“ which was released only to Amazon Prime Video. But it was the negative reception of the film that provided a month's worth of memes.

However, Netflix did achieve success with "Tick, Tick… Boom!”. In that same year, the service also began streaming "Diana: The Musical,” which received a whopping 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

"West Side Story," "Cyrano" and "Tick, Tick… Boom!" were the only musical films in this era to receive Oscar nominations. There were 10 nominations between the three movies, with only one winning an award, which went to Arianna DeBose for "Best Performance for an Actress in a Supporting Role." Instead of receiving Academy Awards, this era of films picked up a multitude of Razzie nominations and awards more than any other type of accolade. 

Ultimately, after several low-rated musicals and box office flops in recent years, movie-goers have most likely grown tired of this genre, hence the groans while viewing the newest movie musical "Mean Girls."

Yet, with film studios utilizing untruthful advertising, the movie musical genre seems to be in a new era. An era where studio executives have instituted a new marketing tactic that could potentially fix this persistent problem for movie musicals today. 


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2016-2024 The Post, Athens OH