Prophecy: High School Musical 3

By BOP Staff

October 17, 2008

Don't worry parents, their relationship is *totally* platonic.

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David Mumpower: If you have children yourself or know anyone under the age of 18, you are by now well aware of the phenomenon that is High School Musical. And you most assuredly resent them for this knowledge.

The made-for-TV movie about a...well, you figure it one of the most surprising cable success stories the industry has ever known. Debuting on January 20, 2006, the original High School Musical was popular enough to gain a Disney Channel record 7.7 million viewers. What happened next is what makes it a triumph. Each of the next three repeats of the broadcast saw higher viewership than the original airing. Kids went crazy for those starstruck lovers, Troy and Gabrielle, to the point that after three weeks in rotation, 26.3 million distinct viewers had watched them get their heads in the game of love.

High School Musical became a cottage industry that some analysts speculated was worth half a billion dollars to Disney over the next 12 months. There was a quadruple platinum soundtrack, multiple DVD releases that made it the fastest selling as well as most successful TV movie of all time, HSM merchandise that dominated Christmas in 2006 and a movie sequel. There had to be a movie sequel.

Some had speculated that the phenomenon of HSM would be short-lived. Such concerns were answered quickly and emphatically upon High School Musical 2's debut on August 17, 2007. 17.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the first airing of the sequel. Folks, just in case you aren't clear about how strong a performance this is, forget that it's the all-time best performance on cable television for a moment. Think of it in box office terms instead. At an average ticket price of $6.88 for 2007, that would be a *single day* total of $118.3 million had this been released in theaters. Even The Dark Knight would look impotent compared to that.

Given this news, Disney made the obvious call here and decided that High School Musical 3 would not be a free showing for anyone with cable. Instead, they have looked at their data that states 170 million people watched the original and decided that a theatrical release was a no-brainer. As said release approaches, it is time to make a determination about whether they are right.

How successful a release do you expect High School Musical 3: Senior Year to be?


Calvin Trager: I'm prepared to be laughed right out of the room for coming in too low, but that's the price you pay for speaking up first, and thinking later. My gut says in the range of a $70 million opening. I think domestic box office will easily clear $300 million. To sum up my prediction: a solid opening and plenty of repeat business.

Jason Lee: Jason: I felt exactly the same way Calvin does, in that I know what I honestly and sincerely believe it will make in its opening weekend but am terrified that I'm coming in laughably low. I know that this franchise has a huge fanbase and have demonstrated a willingness to spend money on HSM products (DVDs, CDs, etc.) however I think that HSM 3 will be handcuffed a little bit by the age of the audience - you can go over to Amy's house to watch HSM 2 but you gotta get your mom to drive you to the theater to see HSM 3.

This is likely low, but I predict a mid-$60 million opening, topping out around $180 - $190 million.

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