Film hits such as Mean Girls go bitesize to match attention spans

Will TikTok kill off the cinema for good? As Mean Girls becomes the latest film to be diced up into 23 clips, experts say studios are catering to our ever-dwindling attention spans

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Cinema blockbusters in recent years have undoubtedly got longer – Oppenheimer, last year’s Babylon and the latest Avatar film all run over three fidgety hours – but the latest film trend requires just the merest hint of an attention span. 

To mark Mean Girls Day yesterday – officially October 3rd, Lindsay Lohan’s 2004 cult hit about high school cattiness was repurposed by Paramount Pictures to appeal to a 2023 audience. 

How? By slicing and dicing the noughties classic into 23 digestible clips, and serving it all up on TikTok for 24 hours. 

Access to the catalogue of clips disappeared, Cinderella-like, at midnight but the official Mean Girls TikTok page – which carries the bio ‘Get in loser, we’re going shopping’ – now has 2.1million likes to boast of.

The hashtag #October3rd has more than 426 million views on TikTok – before you add in figures from other social media platforms. 

‘It’s October 3rd’ was a loved line from 2004 hit Mean Girls and led to that day in the calendar being named Mean Girls Day – Paramount Pictures chose to release the entire film on TikTok – in 23 clips – to mark it this year 

Effective! The Mean Girls account now has 2.1million likes after the one-day release

Clips of favourite films on social media is nothing new, but until recently they’ve almost all been posted by fans not by studios.  

However, recent months have seen official releases on TikTok of both old and new films and TV series – with cinema trips already at an all-time low, could the little screen be about to slay the big screen? 

It’s possible to watch a clip-by-clip version of Mel Gibson’s 2000 rom-com What Women Want. And season one of US hit comedy series Killing It was made free to watch on TikTok in August, after NBCUniversal announced it would release five clips, each between three and eight minutes long, on the platform beloved of Gen Z. 

Editor-in-chief at Total Film magazine, Jane Crowther, told MailOnline that social media is currently the most powerful promotional asset available to studios. 

The Lindsay Lohan film is set to be a new film musical in early 2024…so engaging a new audience via TikTok is key, says Jane Crowther, editor of Total Film magazine

‘Influencers and TikTok are increasingly the way studios sell films. Engagement starts with fast, quick clips that entice punters into the cinema. 

‘On TikTok, there’s are lots of films that (illegally) reside in this format there. You can watch a number of films in tiny bursts if you want – and now studios are just mimicking what’s already happening there. It’s very much a case of, if you can’t beat them, join them.’ 

Despite Mean Girls being almost 20 years old, there’s plenty of life in the franchise yet, says Crowther.

The Mean Girls musical is coming to London’s West End in June 2024, it has been announced

‘A new musical version of Mean Girls is being released in cinemas in January so yesterday’s campaign ensures that engagement and understanding of the content is there for those who didn’t grow up understanding what a “burn book” is. 

A stage version is also on its way, hitting London’s West End in June 2024, with performances at the Savoy Theatre marking two decades since the release of the original film.

The 2004 movie tells the story of a trio of popular teenage girls called The Plastics, made up of Regina, Gretchen and Karen, who rule North Shore High school. 

If you’re not convinced about watching a film or show in bite-size chunks, it’s easier than you think, says Jessica Piper, a Social Media Executive at W Communications. 

Mel Gibson’s 2000 rom-com What Women Want was also served up in clips on TikTok, with ‘playlists’ ensuring fans can watch in the right order

In August, NBCUniversal announced it would release five clips of the Peacock series Killing It, each lasting between three and eight minutes long on the social media platform

Jessica Piper, a Social Media Executive at W Communications, says TikTok offers fans a way to both watch the series and engage with other fans and find associated content easily

‘Watching complete films on TikTok is simpler than it seems. Accounts can create series playlists, enabling viewers to watch their TikTok’s in chronological order. 

‘Alternatively, if you come across a scene on your ‘for you page’ and want to watch the next scene, once you click on the account who posted the video, TikTok displays the most recently watched video from that channels account, so it is easier to know which to watch next.’ 

Piper says it’s easier to re-cap, and with a small screen in your pocket, you can watch latest releases wherever you are: ‘The flexibility of enjoying movies on TikTok, allows viewers to rewatch, skip or scan through content easily and it is far more efficient to continue scrolling on TikTok rather than switching to another streaming app or turning on the TV.’ 

The social media expert adds that not only is it increasingly becoming a preferred way to watch a film – it’s easier to find content associated with the film.   

‘TikTok also facilitates communities and lots of classic films have a large following and fan bases who all engage with each other in the comments – which other forms of watching films, do not facilitate.

‘More and more TikTok trends are inspired by movies, from iconic quotes or mimicking favourite characters or even the “vertical movie” trend where artists would use AI to edit movies to be full screen on your phone rather than the usual Hollywood landscape filming.’

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