Paramount Knows Exactly What It’s Doing Putting ‘Mean Girls’ on TikTok in Full
ManOfTheCenturyMovie News Paramount Knows Exactly What It’s Doing Putting ‘Mean Girls’ on TikTok in Full

Paramount Knows Exactly What It’s Doing Putting ‘Mean Girls’ on TikTok in Full

Paramount Knows Exactly What It’s Doing Putting ‘Mean Girls’ on TikTok in Full

Paramount is really trying to make “Fetch” happen, this time with a younger generation.

On October 3, forever enshrined as “Mean Girls” Day in memory of the first time hottie Aaron Samuels asked Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) what day it was in the 2004 teen comedy, Paramount put the entirety of “Mean Girls” on TikTok, viewable for free in 23 chunks.

It’s the first time a movie, new or classic, has been released in full by a major movie studio on TikTok, though Peacock earlier this year released the full pilot episode of the Craig Robinson series “Killing It” as an appetizer to bring in audiences to the streaming show.

Even though “Mean Girls” is already available to watch on Paramount+ or on YouTube for free with ads, the excitement of seeing it on TikTok was immediate. Paramount’s official TikTok feed for “Mean Girls” had just 700 followers at midnight when the movie was added to TikTok, and by press time on Tuesday, the channel had over 66,000 followers and one million likes (and counting). Individual segments of the movie had tens of thousands of views, while the “October 3” clip from the movie started circulating widely and has 5.3 million views. #MeanGirlsDay even became a top trending topic on X (formerly Twitter).

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With any luck, this marketing stunt will drum up some buzz for the release of “Mean Girls” (2024), which is the movie musical adaptation of the Broadway stage show co-written by the film‘s original screenwriter, Tina Fey. That movie hits theaters January 12, but it only last month was shifted there. It was originally intended as a streaming movie for Paramount+, so it could use the leg up with a full marketing blitz and social media takeover. The Broadway show also opens in London next June, and a trailer for the movie musical shouldn’t be far behind (Paramount had no comment for this piece).

But the Millennial kids that made “Mean Girls” a hit ($130 million on a $17 million budget in 2004) and an enduring classic are now in their late 20s and 30s, and Paramount desperately wants the Gen-Z crowd that’s actually in high school and may not be as familiar with the movie to show up. This isn’t the first time Paramount has tinkered with the latest social media craze. The studio did some behind-the-scenes marketing buzz for “Scream VI” via the BeReal app, a real risk considering the secretive nature of the plot.

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“Mean Girls” the musical on BroadwayJoan Marcus

So they know reaching kids where they are makes a whole lot of sense, and it’s amazing something like this hasn’t happened sooner.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Robert Mitchell, an adjunct professor with American University’s Kogod School of Business and a former marketing executive at major studios, including Paramount, told IndieWire. “I know, you’ve got to protect your IP. Obviously, piracy is across the board. But now it comes to the time where in order to build greater engagement and to create that community, you have to ‘give away’ your content.”

Mitchell says the “Mean Girls” TikTok release is the perfect intersection of marketing and content, where the marketing leads with the actual content that audiences can engage with. Major studios, often so protective of their content, almost never do it enough. It’s also the rare movie that is well known enough that a marketing stunt like this could actually work. And by releasing the entire movie on TikTok in chunks, he believes Paramount “knew exactly what they were doing” if they want to get maximum engagement.

“The last thing you want to do is put restrictions. You don’t do that. You can do more harm. If you let content out, let it be out, full engagement, full interactivity, Good, Bad, or Ugly,” Mitchell said. “As much as the heads of studios marketing would love to orchestrate these things, it can’t be. It just can’t be. They’re serendipitous. A lot of times they come from nowhere. Marketing should be looked at as a catalyst for these kinds of conversations. I think it’s great that Paramount is doing this because it is all about content. In that convergence with marketing, if you don’t put your assets out there, it is more difficult for something viral to happen.”

“Mean Girls” won’t live on TikTok permanently, only for a limited time, so it’s not as if this necessarily represents a major pivot toward TikTok being the new home to watch feature films. The live watch party Paramount is hosting on TikTok at 7 PM ET will also have plenty of reminders of where you can stream, rent, or buy it. And a studio insider also tells IndieWire “Mean Girls” is a unique case designed to reach a specific audience and isn’t necessarily a test balloon for future marketing rollouts of other library movies.

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Title treatment for “Mean Girls” (2024)

But other studios would be dumb not to try out a similar marketing model when trying to establish legacy IP with a younger crowd. The studio insider says they had observed trends of younger audiences watching long-form content on TikTok and felt that presenting it as a playlist of 23 segments would be an optimal way of getting people to share their favorite clips or quotes from the movie.

But as some writers who just spent the last five months beating the drum about residuals have pointed out, posting “Mean Girls” on TikTok in 23 chunks falls into a gray area or loophole in which each clip can be deemed “promotional” or “marketing” content that doesn’t require paying residuals. It’s a challenge late night comedy writers know all too well.

Mitchell though is optimistic we’ll see more of this, if not on TikTok then on Fortnite or other social media platforms, but with an asterisk.

“The studios are so, so worried about IP and privacy, and they’re so protective of their assets. I understand that, but the other part is you have to let go of something. So I hope to see more,” he said. “It’s all about a communal experience. And it’s not for everyone, meaning you really have to know your audience and the persona of your audience to determine if that’s the right thing to do. But I hope we’re going to see more of it, because the studios and networks need it.”

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