The fourth installment to the highly successful Disney TV movie franchise "High School Musical" is officially happening, Disney Channel confirmed through a press release published on March 1. The network has also announced that it has begun its nationwide casting search.
The press release further shares that the upcoming movie "will continue the story of the global sensation 'High School Musical' — and introduce new East High Wildcats and their cross-town school rivals, the West High Knights."
"'High School Musical' is part of Disney Channel's DNA. It embodies all that we stand for," says Disney Channel President Gary Marsh. The fourth installment, he says, is a "way of continuing to embrace that heritage."
Meanwhile, E! News has learned the character lineup for "High School Musical 4." Reportedly, there will be five new major characters, namely: Erin, the only girl in the boys' soccer team; Derek, the bad boy dancer and soccer player who will fall for Erin; Campbell — who happens to be Sharpay and Ryan Evans' cousin — is the soccer team captain and a theater star at the same time; Natalie, Erin's cheerleader best friend; and, Tamara, East High's fallen queen bee.
There is no word yet, though, if any of the original cast members will reprise a role and make an appearance. The rumor mill, however, is hoping that the Evans siblings will make a cameo given the fact that their cousin is one of the lead stars.
The first three original movies, with the first one premiered in 2006, starred Zac Efron as Troy Bolton, Vanessa Anne Hudgens as Gabriella Montez, Ashley Tisdale as Sharpay Evans, Lucas Grabeel as Ryan Evans, Corbin Bleu as Chad Danforth and Monique Coleman as Taylor McKessie.
"High School Musical 4" will be directed and choreographed by DGA Award nominee Jeffrey Hornaday. Dan Berendsen and Peter Barsocchini will pen its storyline. Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush return as the movie's executive producers.
As per the aforementioned press release, the original "High School Musical" garnered 7.7 million total number of viewers in the U.S. alone. It is also the first-ever TV movie soundtrack that broke into the Billboard 200 Albums Year-End Chart, landing at #2 in 2006. It received six Emmy Awards nominations and won two, namely: Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Children's Program.
Disney Channel has yet to announce an airdate for "High School Musical 4."