Dis conjures up 'Haunted High School'

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NEW YORK -- The Disney Channel's smash hit "High School Musical" will not only get a TV sequel this summer but spawn a movie next year as well.

Disney Channel and Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group announced Thursday that "Haunted High School Musical" will be released in 2008. Few details were unveiled other than its Halloween theme; it wasn't clear how many of the original cast and crew members will appear in the movie, though the studio has begun discussions.

The cast and director Kenny Ortega have reunited this week for rehearsals in Utah in advance of "High School Musical 2." Production on that begins in three weeks, and the sequel is expected to air in August on the Disney Channel.

There isn't a script yet, Disney Channel Worldwide Entertainment president Gary Marsh said Thursday at the channel's upfront presentation at the Hudson Theatre.

"High School Musical" has been a phenomenon for the Disney Channel since the movie's premiere in January 2006, one that has moved way beyond the TV screen. The soundtrack shot up the Billboard charts, spawned a concert tour and has become an international hit.

Disney executives in Orlando during an investor conference said that "High School Musical" will contribute about $100 million in profits for the company in 2006 and '07.

Also announced at the upfront were 605 new episodes, 10 new series and 27 new movies. Highlights of the new series include "Disney's Wizards," which revolves around three siblings who are wizards in their youth but only one will remain so after they turn 18. The sitcom is executive produced by Todd Greenwald ("Hannah Montana") and Peter Murietta ("Greetings From Tucson," "Hope & Faith").

Disney Channel also announced a global initiative for its Disney Channel Games that will include competitors from all over the world. There will be two half-hour specials on the channel for the opening and closing ceremonies along with shortform programming throughout the summer, said Tricia Wilbur, Disney Media Advertising Sales and Marketing Group executive vp.

Wilbur said there also will be online, Disney Adventure magazine and Radio Disney components, and the channel will offer sponsors. Disney Channel does not have any advertising.
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