The High School Musical franchise consists of three Disney musical romantic comedy-drama films directed by Kenny Ortega and created by Peter Barsocchini. It stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, and Monique Coleman. The original film was released simply as a Disney Channel Original Movie, but after its huge success, it was followed by a television sequel. The third film received a theatrical release. Tisdale and Grabeel reprised their roles as Sharpay and Ryan Evans in a spin-off on the series titled Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, it was a direct to video film. Numerous international versions have been created, plus stage musicals and video games have been released, among other things. On March 1, 2016, a fourth installment was announced. It is titled High School Musical 4: East Meets West It has been rumored along side, that there has been a list of characters waiting to portray some of the original HSM characters, but has not been verified nor is it official.
High School Musical was released on January 20, 2006 as a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM), and is the most successful DCOM ever produced. The film was Disney Channel’s most watched DCOM in 2006, with 7.7 million viewers for its premiere broadcast in the US and 789,000 viewers for its UK premiere. It was the first DCOM ever to be broadcast by BBC on December 29, 2006, and has been viewed by over 225 million people worldwide. The first film’s leads were Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale and Lucas Grabeel, who sang most of the songs.
The film follows star athlete Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and shy, smart Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens). Troy and Gabriella meet while vacationing at a ski lodge over Christmas Break and inadvertently participate in a karaoke contest together (“Start of Something New”). When school starts in January, drama queen Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) makes a dramatic entrance at East High, Troy’s school. At this point, Gabriella is revealed to be a new transfer student to the school; she and Troy reconnect. Later that day, the pair are seen talking at the sign-up sheet for the Winter Musical by the Drama Club’s co-president, Sharpay. Her fraternal twin brother and co-president Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) notices Troy constantly coming back to the sheet. Doing her research, Sharpay finds out that Gabriella was a top student at her old schools and convinces Scholastic Decathlon captain Taylor McKessie (Monique Coleman) to invite Gabriella to the team as a distraction from auditioning. Troy’s best friend, Chad Danforth (Corbin Bleu), is concerned that Troy’s mind seems to have wandered away from basketball despite being varsity team captain and struggles to keep his attention.