Hollywood mutes musical marketing

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The Future. Over the next couple of months, Wonka, Mean Girls, and The Color Purple are all slated for release… but only the The Color Purple has really shown that it’s actually a full-fledged musical. The current Hollywood perception is that the actual music in musicals limits a movie’s appeal, but audiences finding out that a film is a musical after the fact could hurt its chances of success even more.

Mic check
Hollywood is a bit embarrassed about its upcoming musicals, with Wonka and Mean Girls having mostly sidestepped onscreen singing in digital marketing materials.

  • Paramount released a theatrical trailer for Mean Girls that showed star Reneé Rapp singing a number from the Broadway musical that it’s adapted from… but only because it played in front of Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour concert film.
  • Ironically, Wonka star Timothée Chalamet has discussed how he was cast partly because of high school YouTube videos that featured his singing voice… a fact that has generated headlines but still hasn’t translated to marketing.

Why are studios hiding the showstoppers? During the pandemic, Disney’s West Side Story and Warner Bros.’ In the Heights severely underperformed at the box office despite their creative pedigree. And before that, Cats and Dear Evan Hansen failed to launch.

The argument is that audiences didn’t show up because of the musical elements, pointing to how Frozen wasn’t marketed as a musical and that didn’t stop its success. Sure, maybe. But 2017’s The Greatest Showman was marketed as a wall-to-wall musical, and that film pulled a global box office haul of $434 million.

So, as the old Hollywood saying goes, “Nobody knows anything.”

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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