Out This Weekend: High School Musical 2

Disney blew the roof off the ratings with its 2006 made-for-TV movie, High School Musical.  Will they repeat that success with High School Musical 2?

The sequel has a hard act to follow.  High School Musical (referred to as HSM by its hardcore fans), told the story of basketball star Troy Bolton (played by Zac Efron) and math ace Gabriella Montez (played by Vanessa Hudgens), who crossed clique lines to star in the school show.  HSM's touching story line, catchy music and energetic dance sequences, which contain no profanity or sexual references, lit a bonfire in the 'tween set. 

An August 10 USA Today article reported that approximately 160 million people have seen the movie. Nearly eight million copies of the DVD sold worldwide even with the Disney Channel continually re-airing the movie.  In fact, a July 2007 rerun (the twenty-first airing of it) brought in an audience of close to six million, about 75 percent of the audience the premiere reached eighteen months prior in January 2006.

Worldwide sales of the soundtrack topped seven million, making it the number one album of 2006.  A highly successful concert tour in the United States grossed $25 million, according to USA Today. 


Most telling, however, are the prizes HSM scored at the 2006 Teen Choice Awards. 

For starters, HSM won the TV-Choice Comedy/Musical Show laurels.   That's right.  Teens picked the squeaky-clean HSM over more “edgy” comedies including Desperate Housewives, Everybody Hates Chris, Gilmore Girls, My Name is Earl and The War at Home.


“The HSM franchise is the definition of wholesome; in the original millions of preteen girls everywhere were disappointed when Troy never planted one on Gabriella.  A whole movie about whether the boy gets the girl, and there's no kiss?” whines the August 17 Washington Post. 


Even without kissing, Hudgens and Efron also took home the 2006 TV-Choice Chemistry honor at the Teen Choice Award for their portrayal of a picture-perfect, star-crossed couple. 


USA Today seems to think HSM 2 is going to repeat the success of the original, labeling the sequel as “a first-rate family film: sweet, smart, bursting with talent and energy, and awash in innocence” in its August 17 review by Robert Bianco. 

The Post noted “nationwide, there are sleepovers and birthday parties and pizza parties long planned for this particular night.”  In fact, when this writer's 10-year-old brother found out he would be visiting her this weekend, the first question he asked was “Do you have the Disney Channel? HSM 2 comes out while we'll be with you.” 

Kudos to Disney for proving that “wholesome” family entertainment can create a massive following among children and teenagers.  

Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.