Disney Goes Back to 'School’

4/12/2008 2:00 AM Eastern

The curtain has yet to go up on Disney Channel’s big-screen production of High School Musical 3, but the network has already set its sights on the fourth iteration of the blockbuster franchise, according to Disney Channels Worldwide entertainment president Gary Marsh.

Marsh, speaking Tuesday at the network’s upfront presentation in New York, also announced several new original movies for the tween-targeted network, several of them featuring the network’s “Next Big Thing,” 15-year-old actress and songwriter Demi Lovato.

The High School Musical movie franchise is expected to return to Disney Channel sometime in 2009 or 2010, after HSM3 debuts in theaters this October, according to Marsh, although he would not provide a specific date.

He said some of the stars from HSM3 would likely not return to reprise their roles in the fourth installment, but the movie will feature several new characters that will appear in that film.

“The franchise may be bigger than the stars itself, so if one, two or none of the stars come back, the franchise is still compelling,” he said.

The High School Musical franchise has been a ratings juggernaut for Disney. Last August’s airing of High School Musical 2 stands as the most-watched entertainment show ever on cable, drawing 18.6 million viewers on a live, plus-7-day basis.

ABC will even air a reality spinoff of the franchise this summer dubbed High School Musical: Summer Session.

As for Disney’s upcoming schedule, the network will debut its next musical-oriented film, Camp Rock on several platforms beginning June 17. The movie, featuring The Jonas Brothers and Lovato — who currently stars in Disney’s sitcom short As The Bell Rings — will premiere on Disney On Demand June 17 before debuting on Disney Channel June 20, said network officials. The movie will then air over the next two nights; first on broadcast network ABC and then on ABC Family, said Marsh.

Lovato told Multichannel News that she will join The Jonas Brothers on a multi-city concert tour later this year.

Lovato will also star alongside teen actress Selena Gomez (Disney’s original series Wizard Of Waverly Place) in a new Disney original movie Princess Protection Program, as well as a pilot series, Marsh said.

Disney will import several of its series stars for two other original films: Emily Osmet, Jason Earles and Moises Arias (Hannah Montana) and Phill Lewis (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) will star in Dadnapped; while Jason Dolley (Cory In The House) and Mitchel Musso (Hannah Montana) will appear in the network’s Hatching Pete.

The network has also green-lit a third season of its top-rated series Hannah Montana, and has renewed freshman comedy series Wizards Of Waverly Place and animated show Phineas and Ferb, said Marsh.

1Q 2008 (000s) 1Q 2007 (000s) % Change
1st Quarter 2008: 12/31/2007-3/30/2008
1st Quarter 2007: 01/01/2007-04/01/2007
SOURCE: Disney-ABC Television Group analysis of Nielsen Media Research
Persons 6-11, Total Day
Nickelodeon 707 659 7%
Disney Channel 556 530 5%
Cartoon Network 350 394 -11%
Nick at Nite 241 215 12%
Adult Swim 112 177 -37%
Persons 6-11 , Primetime
Disney 1038 1042 0%
Cartoon Network 442 561 -21%
Nick At Nite 427 369 16%
ABC Family 123 110 12%
USA Network 113 108 5%
Persons 9-14 Total Day
Nickelodeon 522 473 10%
Disney Channel 453 454 0%
Nick At Nite 325 229 42%
Cartoon Network 248 282 -12%
Adult Swim 146 205 -29%
Persons 9-14, Primetime
Disney Channel 850 935 -9%
Nick At Nite 492 349 41%
Cartoon Network 348 401 -13%
ABC Family 175 161 9%
USA Network 161 146 10%


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