Details have surfaced about Disney Channel’s new High School Musical series, which is in development for the company’s impending direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Shot as a docu-style show with a 10-episode story arc, High School Musical: The Musical returns to East High, where a new group of students are gearing up to stage a performance of High School Musical for their winter theater production. The plot kicks off when aspiring actor Nini unexpectedly breaks up with her class-clown boyfriend Ricky, who hatches a plan to get her back by auditioning to star opposite her. Predictably, off-stage and on-stage drama ensues.
Oscar- and Golden Globe-nominated Tim Federle (Ferdinand) was previously announced as the series’ writer, but he is also executive producing alongside Emmy-nominated EP Oliver Goldstick (Pretty Little Liars). Casting will be led by director Julie Ashton (Bob’s Burgers, Will & Grace).
In addition, each episode is set to feature an original song and a new version of a beloved song from the High School Musical franchise.
After premiering on Disney Channel in 2006, the original High School Musical film (pictured) quickly became the most successful Disney Channel original movie of all time, and helped launch the careers of stars including Zac Efron, Ashley Tisdale, Vanessa Hudgens and Corbin Bleu. High School Musical 2 hit Disney Channel a year later, followed by the 2008 theatrical release of the franchise’s final entry, High School Musical 3: Senior Year. All three films were directed by Kenny Ortega, who is not currently attached to the new TV project. The franchise was also a massive off-screen success, extending into consumer products, books, a concert tour, a stage musical, video games and a reality series.
The House of Mouse has been very tight-lipped on details about anything to do with its family-oriented SVOD platform launch, particularly the content that will be available on it. High School Musical: The Musical is one of the only series it has shared meaningful details about thus far. Disney’s SVOD app is expected to launch in late 2019, according to comments made by CEO Bob Iger in his analyst call following Disney’s Q3 earnings announcement in August. Iger also stated that the service will offer less content than Netflix, and as such, will be priced lower.
As for previously announced exclusive original series, the streamer will debut a 12-episode return of animated hit Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a TV series adaptation of Pixar’s popular movie Monsters Inc., a live-action Star Wars show written by director Jon Favreau, and an untitled series from the Marvel universe.
At least nine original movies will also be exclusive to the service, including an adaptation of popular children’s book series Timmy Failure by cartoonist/writer Stephan Pastis, and live-action remakes of Lady and the Tramp and The Sword in the Stone.
Disney’s former film marketing president Ricky Strauss is currently leading content and marketing initiatives for the service, after being upped to president of content and marketing for the SVOD in June. Reporting to Strauss is SVP of content Agnes Chu, and president of Disney Streaming Services Michael Paull and his team are leading product, technology, distribution, customer acquisition and lifecycle marketing.
The House of Mouse potentially has one more advantage over other streaming services—21st Century Fox. The US$71.3-billion acquisition of a significant portion of Rupert Murdoch’s empire is expected to be finalized early next year. including its movie and television studios, cable properties and international TV businesses, a 30% stake in streaming service Hulu, and a 39% stake in European satcaster Sky.