The phenomenon known as "High School Musical"
There are certain words that we use so much they lose their meaning. Phenomenon is one of those.
But there is truly no other word to describe the juggernaut known as Disney’s “High School Musical.”
If you’re one of the few people on the planet who haven’t seen the tale of the jock guy and the smart girl “Breaking Free” to audition for their high school musical, then you have another shot tonight on the Disney Channel. Tonight’s airing will be used to promote the premiere of “Cheetah Girls 2,” the sequel to the 2003 Disney Channel smash.
So how big is “HSM”? According to a NINE-PAGE article in the July 24th issue of “Newsweek” (which should be one indication), in the 12 times the movie aired between January and April, 36.5 million UNIQUE viewers tuned in (That’s not counting people who watched it more than once!). On the day of its release, the DVD sold 400,000 copies (Yes, I have one.) and the soundtrack is the top selling CD of the year (Yes, I have one of those too.). You can buy “HSM” t-shirts, bags and buttons through Limited Too and starting this fall, you’ll be able to buy even more merchandise at stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s.
And don’t be surprised to see “HSM” coming to a local high school near you this year. According to “Newsweek,” when Disney posted word of the coming theatrical licenses, the web site was flooded with 15,000 inquiries on the FIRST DAY! The first printing of sheet music for the movie sold out and is currently selling at a rate of 8000 folios per month!
And don’t expect the hoopla to die down anytime soon as the Disney machine continues to carefully map out the stars’ careers, much like the old studio system in 1940s. Lucas Grabeel (Ryan) and Corbin Bleu (Chad) are already working on new Disney Channel movies, Monique Coleman (Taylor) will compete on “Dancing With the Stars” this fall, Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay) is one of the stars of the Disney hit show, “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and has a recording contract with Warner Bros., Zac Efron (Troy) will next play Link in the film version of “Hairspray” and Vanessa Anne Hudgens (Gabriella) is working on a music career and will debut her new video during Friday’s airing of “Cheetah Girls 2.”
Plus, they’ll all be back for the sequel next summer, where the action will shift to a country club owned by Sharpay’s grandfather. And, of course, the club will stage a musical so the competition between Troy and Gabriella and Ryan and Sharpay can begin anew. Early word is that Ryan may turn on his sister this time around.
If not for the premiere of “Prison Break,” I would’ve made this my pick of the week. Yes, the movie is aimed at 9-14 year olds, but it’s endearing enough to attract adults too. And the choreography is so good (by the Emmy-winning Kenny Ortega of “Dirty Dancing” fame), and the songs so catchy (especially the basketball-themed “Get Your Head in the Game”), you’ll want to join right in.
For you parents who are worried the movie may too be adult for your child, don’t. Though the movie is primarily a love story, Troy and Gabriella don’t even kiss. Ryan and Sharpay do sing a song about “shaking their booty,” but it’s all innocent fun; and they look ridiculous anyway.
“High School Musical” airs tonight (Thursday) at 8 on the Disney Channel.