2:30pm PT by Kate Stanhope
Disney Channel Plans 'High School Musical 4'
Disney is starting something new with one of its most popular franchises.
The cable channel is officially casting for High School Musical 4, the long-rumored next installment in the successful movie series, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The fourth movie in the franchise, which has spawned such stars as Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, will center on a new group of students at East High, as well as their crosstown rivals, the West High Knights.
Jeffrey Hornaday (Disney Channel's Teen Beach Movie, Teen Beach 2) is attached to direct and choreograph the movie. Dan Berendsen (Freeform's Baby Daddy, Disney's Hannah Montana: The Movie) and Peter Barsocchini, who wrote all three High School Musical movies, are the screenwriters of High School Musical 4.
Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush return as executive producers. Jason La Padura, Natalie Hart and Kendra Patterson of LaPadura/Hart/Patterson will serve as casting directors for the project.
A nationwide casting search for the new film's stars kicked off Tuesday, with more information forthcoming about open casting calls available here.
The announcement comes a decade after the first film debuted on Disney Channel and quickly became one of the network's biggest hits, selling millions of soundtracks and making household names out of its young cast. A second film debuted on Disney Channel one year later, followed by High School Musical 3, which first premiered in theaters in 2008. A fourth feature has been rumored since 2010.
"High School Musical is part of Disney Channel’s DNA," Disney Channels Worldwide president and CCO Gary Marsh said Tuesday in a statement. "It embodies all that we stand for. As a way of continuing to embrace that heritage, we're excited to announce 'the start of something new' — as we launch a search for a new class of East High Wildcats to star in a fourth installment of the High School Musical franchise."