‘Mean Girls’ is an adaptation of an adaptation. It’s one of many.

‘Mean Girls’ is an adaptation of an adaptation. It’s one of many.

News

“Mean Girls” returns to the big screen Friday, this time with songs like “Meet the Plastics,” and “Revenge Party.” The new movie is based on the 2017 musical, which itself is based on the 2004 film.

Just weeks earlier was the premiere of the newly musical “The Color Purple” film, adapted from the 2005 Broadway show, which followed a 1985 film based on the 1982 novel.

Adapting films and musicals back and forth is increasingly popular, according to a Washington Post analysis, as producers turn to proven successes with a built-in fanbase that can grow in a different medium.

The first to complete the cycle was 1957’s “Silk Stockings,” based on a musical adapted from the 1939 romantic comedy “Ninotchka.” But the majority of these musical movies have come out since 2000, and many in just the past few years.


Every film that was adapted from a musical which was adapted from a film

Almost a quarter of movie-musical-movies were released after 2020

Reefer Madness

Silk Stockings

A Little Night Music

Sweet Charity

Hello, Dolly!

Little Shop of Horrors

The Producers

A Christmas Story

There were 27 years

between Nine’s Broadway

premiere and the musical

film release

The Color Purple

Some musical films are

released as live recordings,

like Billy Elliot, Kinky Boots

and Waitress

Billy Elliot

Legally Blonde

Freaky Friday

Mean Girls

Kinky Boots

Everybody’s Talking

About Jamie

Every film that was adapted from a

musical which was adapted from a film

Almost a quarter of movie-musical-movies were released after 2020

Reefer Madness

Silk Stockings

A Little Night Music

Sweet Charity

Hello, Dolly!

Little Shop of Horrors

The Producers

A Christmas Story

There were 27 years between

Nine’s Broadway premiere

and the musical film release

The Color Purple

Some musical films are

released as live recordings,

like Billy Elliot, Kinky Boots

and Waitress

Billy Elliot

Legally Blonde

Freaky Friday

Mean Girls

Kinky Boots

Everybody’s Talking

About Jamie

Every film that was adapted from a musical which was adapted from a film

Almost a quarter of movie-musical-movies were released after 2020

Musical

1954

Reefer

Madness

Silk Stockings

A Little Night Music

Sweet Charity

Hello, Dolly!

Little Shop of Horrors

The Producers

There were 27 years between

Nine’s Broadway premiere and

the musical film release

A Christmas Story

The Color Purple

Billy Elliot

Legally Blonde

Some musical films are

released as live recordings,

like Billy Elliot, Kinky Boots

and Waitress

Freaky Friday

Mean Girls

Kinky Boots

Everybody’s Talking

About Jamie

Every film that was adapted from a musical which was adapted from a film

Almost a quarter of movie-musical-movies were released after 2020

Musical

1954

Reefer Madness

Silk Stockings

A Little Night Music

Sweet Charity

Hello, Dolly!

Little Shop of Horrors

The Producers

There were 27 years between

Nine’s Broadway premiere and

the musical film release

A Christmas Story

The Color Purple

Billy Elliot

Legally Blonde

Some musical films are

released as live recordings,

like Billy Elliot, Kinky Boots

and Waitress

Freaky Friday

Mean Girls

Kinky Boots

Everybody’s Talking

About Jamie

For Hollywood studios, adapting a movie to stage is relatively inexpensive compared to movie production. And a theatrical success is likely to become a musical film, which can reach new, global audiences.

For fans and creators there’s a “sort of perpetual mobility, it keeps everything rolling,” said Olaf Jubin, an associate lecturer at Goldsmiths University of London.

Tina Fey wrote the original “Mean Girls,” produced the musical and wrote and produced the new film, gaining new audiences and recognition with each step.

So many people know and love the original “The Color Purple” film, said academic and musical theater commenter Trevor Jones. “And the fact that Oprah produced the musical and was in the movie, all of that connection comes down to sales.”

The movie-to-musical-to-movie production line is a minor note in the larger Hollywood and Broadway relationship that puts musicals on screen and movies on the stage.

In the early years of Hollywood, studios turned to Broadway for storylines. More recently, the trend has turned the other way as Broadway takes advantage of putting known works — often cult-classics like “Legally Blonde” and “Groundhog Day” — on the stage.

Over a quarter of shows playing on Broadway right now are based on films, and dozens of adaptations have toured or played regional theaters over the past few decades.


Pre-1950’s, all adaptations were from stage to screen…

FILM-TO-MUSICAL

ADAPTATIONS

MUSICAL-TO-FILM

ADAPTATIONS

Early Hollywood movies sourced musicals

for inspiration, though kept little the same.

Animal Crackers was one

of eight musical adaptations

for the big screen in 1930.

…In the late 1950’s, movies to musicals first appeared…

Little Shop of Horrors opened

off-Broadway in 1982. It ran for

five years and later premiered

on Broadway in 2003.

The Sound of Music won the

Oscar for best picture in 1965.

…In the early 2000’s,

movie-to-musical adaptations exploded in popularity

Matilda opened on Broadway

in 2013 and ran until 2017.

Mean

Girls

Pre-1950’s, all adaptations were from stage to screen…

FILM-TO-MUSICAL

ADAPTATIONS

MUSICAL-TO-FILM

ADAPTATIONS

Early Hollywood movies sourced musicals for

inspiration, though kept little the same.

Animal Crackers was one

of eight musical adaptations

for the big screen in 1930.

…In the late 1950’s, movies to musicals first appeared…

Little Shop of Horrors opened

off-Broadway in 1982. It ran for

five years and later premiered

on Broadway in 2003.

The Sound of Music won the

Oscar for best picture in 1965.

…In the early 2000’s, movie-to-musical adaptations exploded in popularity

Matilda opened on Broadway

in 2013 and ran until 2017.

Mean

Girls

Pre-1950’s, all adaptations were from stage to screen…

Early Hollywood movies sourced

musicals for inspiration, though

kept little the same.

FILM-TO-MUSICAL

ADAPTATIONS

MUSICAL-TO-FILM

ADAPTATIONS

Make a Wish, one of

the first film-to-musical

adaptations, ran for 102

performances.

Animal Crackers was one

of eight musical adaptations

for the big screen in 1930.

…In the late 1950’s, movies to musicals first appeared…

Little Shop of Horrors opened

off-Broadway in 1982. It ran for

five years and later premiered

on Broadway in 2003.

Grease the movie

was released in 1978. It’s based

on a musical from 1972.

The Sound of Music won the

Oscar for best picture in 1965.

…In the early 2000’s, movie-to-musical adaptations

exploded in popularity

Mean Girls opened on

Broadway but closed

in 2020 as a result

of the coronavirus

pandemic.

Matilda opened on

Broadway in 2013

and ran until 2017.

The Lion King opened

on Broadway in 1997.

It still runs today.

Pre-1950’s, all adaptations were from stage to screen….

Early Hollywood movies sourced

musicals for inspiration, though

kept little the same.

FILM-TO-MUSICAL

ADAPTATIONS

MUSICAL-TO-FILM

ADAPTATIONS

The Sound of Music won the

Oscar for best picture in 1965.

Make a Wish, one of

the first film-to-musical

adaptations, ran for 102

performances.

Animal Crackers was one

of eight musical adaptations

for the big screen in 1930.

…But when movie-to-musical adaptations arrived, they exploded in popularity

Mean Girls opened

on Broadway but

closed in 2020 as a

result of the

coronavirus

pandemic.

Matilda opened on

Broadway in 2013

and ran until 2017.

Little Shop of Horrors opened

off-Broadway in 1982. It ran for

five years and later premiered

on Broadway in 2003.

The Lion King opened

on Broadway in 1997.

It still runs today.

Grease the movie was

released in 1978. It’s based

on a musical from 1972.

The earliest films often bore little resemblance to the musicals in which they were based. Copyright law at the time meant profits from a close retelling largely bypassed Hollywood studios going straight to the original writers.

Without cast recordings or longer running shows, audiences rarely knew that what they saw on screen didn’t match the stage.

MGM’s 1955 “Guys and Dolls” cut songs from the 1950 stage show like “A Bushel and a Peck” and “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” while adding new ones in their place, like “Pet Me, Poppa” and “A Woman in Love.”

“Then what happened was musicals, which used to last like a few months and still make a profit, now started having longer runs,” said Geoffrey Block, author and emeritus professor at the University of Puget Sound.

Over time, longer running Broadway shows, like “Phantom of the Opera,” gained fanbases and larger recognition during its 35-year run. That put pressure on films to more closely match the original production, even going as far as releasing live recordings for popular shows like “Hamilton” and “Waitress.”

But authenticity is balanced with finding a broader audience. Trailers for “Mean Girls” lacked what made the musical: singing. This sort of omission is not that rare. The first official trailer for “Wonka” (2023) also seemed to hide that the movie had songs in it. The reason for this, according to reporting from Deadline, was that “test-audience focus groups generally hate musicals.”

“This is nothing new. Twenty years ago, I saw the first trailer for ‘Chicago’ and I thought … You know, where is the singing?” Jubin said.

At the same time, musicals were increasingly sourced from films. Films come with a built-in audience, which helps to fill seats, and already have a story arc to build music from and well-known visual aesthetics.

The musicals, which typically are produced in part by the film company, often end up looking to similar to the movie.

In “Back to the Future: The Musical” — with songs including “It Works” and “Back in Time” — there’s a nearly identical time-traveling DeLorean. “The famous lines are there, but also Doc and Marty McFly look exactly like the people in the movies,” Jubin said.

While “Back to the Future: The Musical” isn’t yet slated for a Hollywood adaptation, there are plenty of other adaptations in the works. A movie version of “Wicked” will premiere later this year. In the next month, musical versions of “The Notebook” and “Water for Elephants” start previews. Over 40 more are in the works, including “13 Going on 30,” “SMASH” and “La La Land.”

About this story

The Washington Post created a data set of musical and movie adaptations from the Internet Broadway Database, Internet Movie Database and Playbill, among other sources, including theater websites.

Adaptations cover a broad category including films and musicals based in part or loosely on each other, musicals based on documentaries, and spoofs of an original movie. The data set includes English-language musicals performed at workshops, regional theaters, tours, West End or on Broadway. Films included in the data set consist of English-language films produced by a major film studio and live recordings of musicals released as films.

Hanna Zakharenko grew up listening to musicals and often sang car karaoke to “Memory” from Cats, but her favorite show to this day is “Into The Woods.” Editing by Kate Rabinowitz, who grew up seeing Broadway shows that are lost to memory, and Reuben Fischer-Baum, whose favorite musical adaptation is “Stop the Planet of the Apes. I Want to Get Off!” (Although his favorite musical number is “Rose’s Turn.”)

SOURCE

Leave a Reply

url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url url