Disney’s “High School” Sweetheart Headed Straight to Bank

It may be summer but no matter what age range you fall in, it’s hard to escape high school right about now…”High School Musical,” that is. The Disney cultural phenomenon and its bright-eyed cast are everywhere lately from morning television and magazine covers to gossip blogs and radio stations.

It’s all in preparation for Friday’s television premiere of “High School Musical 2.” But before the sing-and-dance spectacle debuts on the small-screen, the Los Angeles Times today took a look at the business impact and profit buzz the tween dream has on Disney.

The story says the studio shelled out $7 million to make the telefilm, up from $4.2 million for the first installment. A small price to pay considering both musicals are expected to generate approximately $100 million in operating profit, reports Times reporter Dawn C. Chmielewski, from its ancillary offerings including the touring show, DVD sales and merchandise.

But, like every high school student who knows their diploma is in the envelope come graduation day, Disney execs are still nervous until the show actually crosses the stage. “That teenage audience is extremely fickle,” veteran media analyst Larry Gerbrandt told LAT. “And they also have this nasty habit of growing up. You have to be able to keep drawing in a younger audience.”

That should be a slam dunk and expect to see record-breaking numbers over the weekend for the big premiere. The only ones who should be nervous are the young stars – Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgins, Ashley Tisdale and Corbin Bleu. They’re gonna have to grow up soon and attempt that oh-so-elusive crossover from tween star to adult artist. One of them should get Hilary Duff on speed dial.