Disney’s ‘High School Musical’ Franchise By the Numbers

March 2, 2016, 6:18 PM UTC
Breakfast With The Cast And Director Of "High School Musical?
Photograph by Mark Mainz—Getty Images

The Disney Channel’s nationwide casting search for the newest High School Musical cast members is likely stirring up excitement in talented teens across the country who hope to be catapulted to stardom by the massively successful franchise.

The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) network announced on Tuesday that it is rebooting the popular television and film franchise, with work starting on casting High School Musical 4 this spring—just over a decade after the first TV movie debuted on the Disney Channel. The original installment’s airing, in 2006, spawned a hugely popular franchise that helped Disney pull in record-breaking television ratings, sold millions of soundtrack albums, and launched the careers of actors Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens.

Followed by the even more popular TV installment High School Musical 2, in 2007, the franchise also dominated the box office when Disney released the third film in theaters in 2008. Last month, the franchise’s stars gathered for a 10-year reunion to celebrate the first film and subsequent entries.

High School Musical is often credited with helping to pave the way for Glee, another popular TV musical set in a high school. Meanwhile, the musical format generally continues to flourish on television more than 10 years after the franchise debuted, with both Comcast’s (CMCSA) NBC and Fox (FOX) recently experimenting with airing live musical productions on primetime television. (Fox’s Grease adaptation even starred Hudgens and earned solid ratings and reviews last month.)

Here’s a look at the High School Musical franchise’s success, by the numbers:

  • 7.7 million viewers for the first airing of the original TV film, High School Musical, which set a Disney Channel record for viewership.
  • 18.6 million viewers tuned in for the sequel a year later, helping High School Musical 2 break the network’s viewership record by more than 11 million people on its way to becoming the most-watched basic cable broadcast of all-time.
  • Roughly $1 billion in estimated operating profit for Disney from the franchise in 2006 and 2007.
  • Three #1 albums, with the first movie’s soundtrack becoming the first ever TV movie soundtrack to top the charts. The first album was the best-selling of the bunch, selling 3.7 million copies in 2006 as the top album of that year, but the two following soundtracks also each sold millions of copies.
  • $252 million in global box office gross for 2008’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which was the only franchise installment released in theaters.
  • $1.39 billion in combined lifetime domestic box office grosses for stars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, according to Box Office Mojo. The two lead actors have gone on to have by far the most successful Hollywood careers of any of the franchise’s stars, so far. Notable box office hits for Efron include 2014’s Neighbors ($150 million in domestic ticket sales) and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax ($214 million) two years earlier, while Hudgens starred in 2012’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island ($103 million).