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Why Movie Adaptations of Broadway Shows Just Don’t Hit the Same

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

As a self-proclaimed Broadway connoisseur and reformed theatre kid, I’ve been keeping up with new and old musicals since my theatre kid era (circa 2013-2017). My seventh-grade history teacher showed us “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton, and this became the point of no return.

If you’re like me, then you might be wondering, “What’s up with all these musical film adaptations?” And I’m 100 percent with you there.

Mean Girls (2024)

Let’s talk Mean Girls (2024). This movie is already at a disadvantage because not only is it a movie adaptation of a musical, but it’s also a remake of an immensely popular movie at its core. Double whammy.

The original movie is still being quoted today. Do you know how many times I hear “fetch” in my day-to-day life? This type of stardom is hard to recreate, even when you have the fantastic cast that the new movie arguably did. With an audience score of 62 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems fans are divided. Even the New York Times decided to opinionate on the issue and is seemingly on Mean Girls’ side.

It seems while everyone is excited about Reneé Rapp as Regina George, her co-stars aren’t getting nearly the same round of applause. Actor Angourie Rice has been under fire for her singing abilities, and even stars in a viral TikTok trend where people compare the musical to the movie adaptation. Yikes.


WHAT DID THEY DO TO MY FAVORITE SONG FROM THE SHOW! Literally all of the fun was taken out of it. #meangirls #moviemusical #meangirlsreview

♬ stupid w love but make it bad – ⋆⭒˚。⋆₊ ⊹ christine ⋆⭒˚。⋆₊ ⊹

As a Broadway fanatic myself, I can understand why people are heated. The movie version lacks the same enthusiasm that the original Broadway recording does. This may be because Broadway shows involve a lot of moving parts. Performance actors don’t get to re-film a scene. They don’t get edited because the performance they put on that stage will be forever ingrained in the brains of the audience. Forget a line? Better improvise. Costume glitch? Go with it.

Broadway actors are expected to dance, sing, act, and be memorable all in a two-hour live show. The movie adaptation had a different artistic approach, and that’s why it’s so complex to talk about the reasons it’s not being received well by Broadway fans.


A perfect example of a successful Broadway movie adaptation is Hamilton (2020). The reviews for this movie are crazy good. A 98 percent audience score makes you wonder what went right here, but not for Mean Girls (2024). The answer is that the audience got exactly what they wanted — the original Broadway cast singing and acting out the original show with nothing taken away from what they heard in their headphones. It was exactly what people expected, and therefore it was received very well. Mean Girls (2024) has a new artistic approach, which will always attract critics.

Wonka (2023)

Once again, a musical remake of a non-musical original movie. However, there is a Willy Wonka musical that was first performed in 2004 (a little before our time). Needless to say it’s not really a show-stopper amongst Broadway fanatics.

The fans seem divided on this one. Once again, opinions did not lack, as even the Times named it “too much” and that the movie lacked a thrill. Yet, there was an increasingly large amount of social buzz on TikTok for the movie before and after it came out, including people making fun of Timothée Chalamet’s infamous line, “I’m making chocolate of course” and dancing to “You’ve Never Had Chocolate Like This” from the new movie.

It also received a 91 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Not so bad! People are seemingly enjoying the movie, even if it wasn’t what they expected at first.

why all the hate?

So why do these movies get so much criticism? The short answer is that movie-musicals are not the same as on-stage Broadway productions or even their original movie counterpart. Audiences expect to hear and see everything from the original.

Even with an amazing cast, movies don’t relay the same emotion as a live show. The energy in a live show just makes you want to explode from joy (at least it does for me, anyway).

The long answer is that it has to do with marketing, audience reception, casting, singing ability, and the overall ability of the movie to incite into audiences a feeling of eclectic awe. We’re bound to keep getting remakes. And as long as they are being produced, my Broadway-loving heart will beat. You can take the kid out of the theater, but you can’t take the theater out of the kid… or something like that.

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Bailey Collier is a staff writer with the Florida State Her Campus chapter. Bailey intends to focus her articles on the STEM side of college life and make STEM not so scary (even though it's always written in caps)! In addition to writing for Her Campus, Bailey works as an Emergency Care Technician and Scribe at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Bailey is a senior majoring in Athletic Training and Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. When she’s not saving the city on fire, she enjoys re-reading the Percy Jackson series whilst sitting next to her two beautiful orange cats, Zuko and Izumi. She plans to apply to Physician Assistant programs in the Spring and is biting her nails at even the thought of this.