Mean Girls is a generation’s Clueless (which is a generation’s Heathers), but now Mean Girls will be another generation’s Mean Girls as the 2004 film has a new, musical version coming to theaters in 2024. Mean Girls—which some will insist on calling a “cult classic” despite its massive popularity and measurable impact on pop culture, just because KIDS like it doesn’t make it “cult”—spawned a hit Broadway musical which has now been translated back into a feature film. We did it, everyone, we finally made “fetch” happen!
The new musical film is coming in January 2024 and this time it stars The Nice Guys’ Angourie Rice as Cady Heron, Renee Rapp reprising her role as Regina George from the Broadway show, Moana’s Auli’i Cravalho as Janis, and Bebe Wood as the iconic Gretchen Wieners. Ashley Park, who played Gretchen on Broadway, is here recast as a teacher. The new film also stars Jenna Fischer as Mrs. Heron, Busy Philipps as Mrs. George, and Jon Hamm as Coach Carr. Tina Fey reprises her original film role as Mrs. Norbury, and Tim Meadows is back as Principal Duvall. In all, the casting is really good, especially Busy Philipps as Regina’s mom. That is as inspired a choice as it gets, and even going by the trailer it looks like she found her own groove and isn’t trying to recreate Amy Poehler’s performance.
I do wonder, though, if Rosalind Wiseman, who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes, the book that inspired the original film, has ever gotten royalties from the film. Last year, she revealed that though the film has made over $130 million, she has never seen her share of net profits. That is not unusual, people almost never see net profits—writer Ed Solomon has famously never been paid for Men In Black—and, unfortunately for Wiseman, when she sold her book rights in 2002, her deal did not include derivative works, including sequels, remakes, and musicals. Sure, she got $400,000, which is more money than most people make, but it must really chafe to see your intellectual property make everyone else millions while you’re told, actually, there’s no profits so no one ever has to pay you your share. (Especially since Tina Fey, who adapted the original screenplay and wrote the book for the musical, has undoubtedly made additional income off Mean Girls over the years.)
Musicals are not my thing, and I am perfectly fine with the 2004 version of the film, but as long as everyone is focused on remaking Mean Girls, no one is trying to remake 10 Things I Hate About You, which is the defining high school film of my actual high school years (I’m too young for Clueless and too old for Mean Girls). I live in dread of someone trying to remake 10 Things, because you can’t. You can never recapture that magic, it exists in a very specific context, which is the post-Clueless glut of increasingly mediocre high school movies of the 1990s. People forget, because the romantic comedy is legitimately so good in 10 Things, but it’s also a parody of high school movies. I will be happy for people to continue forgetting that, so as to leave 10 Things alone. Make a million versions of Mean Girls, and someone please pay Rosalind Wiseman for coming up with something that has made so many other people rich, but stay away from Verona High!