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Hollywood’s Dude Slump

Paramount's 'Mean Girls'
Paramount's 'Mean Girls' is just the latest example of a film intended for streaming that was instead deployed to theaters to seek fortune and glory. It’s also the latest example of a theatrical success story powered by women and girls. Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Scott Mendelson
January 14, 2024

It may or may not be surprising that Mean Girls, the new film based on the 2004 Tina Fey-written coming-of-age comedy and subsequent Fey-written musical, is on track to gross $32 million over the long M.L.K. Day weekend. Mean Girls is just the latest example (see also: Smile and Evil Dead Rise) of a film intended for streaming that was instead deployed to theaters to seek fortune and glory. It’s also the latest example of a theatrical success story powered by women and girls. The film follows the $1.4 billion global success of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and those AMC-distributed concert films from Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, which gave strike-impacted theaters a shot in the arm late last year in between #Barbenheimer in mid-July and the year-end holiday frame, which offered up hits big (Wonka) and small (Anyone But You).

The notion that films for young women can be as competitive as the stereotypically manly tentpole isn’t new, no matter how much the internet troll industrial complex might try to make you forget Twilight, Alice in Wonderland, Hunger Games, Frozen, Maleficent, Zootopia, Wonder Woman, Beauty and the Beast, and Captain Marvel. There are also smaller-scale hits, like Sex and the City, Bridesmaids, The Fault in Our Stars, Lucy, Pitch Perfect, Hidden Figures, Girls Trip, Crazy Rich Asians, and Hustlers. Mean Girls would already qualify for this category.