Last Tuesday was a pretty shameful day for me. I took a trip to my trusty Blockbuster to pick up a copy of High School Musical 2 on DVD with the plan of pretending it was for a younger non-existent sister if the inquiry was raised, but instead ended up admitting that I actually had a soft spot for musicals thanks to my musical middle school days. My actual sister is 20 years old and thinks it's completely ludicrous that I like High School Musical. For all those out there that would chastise me for digging on Disney's cheese-fest, I have this to say to you: Your inner child has either died, or had a traumatizing experience involving singing high schoolers. This rant is not about High School Musical's quality though, but rather the poor executive decisions surrounding the project.
Disney's completely pathetic business strategies actually cause me physical pain on top of haunting my dreams, so I've decided to share my angst with the readers in an attempt to vent. Hopefully now the nightmares will cease. On August 17th, a fine summer evening, 17.2 million viewers in the United States sat down to watch High School Musical 2 making it the highest rated cable broadcast in U.S. History. On the other side of the world in good old Asia 17.5 million viewers plopped down to watch the same show. I'm always fascinated by programs that are so omnipotent that they garner a following this large, especially when it crosses cultural boundaries. High School Musical certainly takes leaps and bounds across cultural borders, but doesn't hit every demographic and age group like the all-powerful efforts of FOX's Behemoth: American Idol. High School Musical is all about the kids. Little girls love Zac Efron and little boys love Vanessa Anne. Despite being just for kids, TV Guide reported that over 88 million people have seen it worldwide. The DVD sales for the first High School Musical are off the charts and the soundtrack has been certified quadruple Platinum. Needless to say I was not the least bit surprised when the sequel drew record breaking ratings.
Let me now share my nightmare with you; it's the same every time. I walk in on a Disney Executive meeting. Robert Iger (current president and CEO) is sitting at a chair across from me at the head of the table wearing a stylish suit and a Figment hat. To his left is Steve Jobs (the head honcho over at Apple who also sits on the board at Disney), and to his left sits Jack Sparrow the pirate. On my right on the other side of the table sit Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Mufasa the lion. They're about to sign an executive order to release High School Musical 2 in theaters instead of just showing it on TV because they think it could generate about a half a billion dollars of extra cash. Jobs and Captain Jack wrote up the plan of action and now the last signature needed is Mufasa's. Then, all of a sudden... Elmer Fudd from Time Warner busts in the room and shoots up Mufasa and then jumps through a glass window and manages to grab a dangling ladder from a TW helicopter. I ask Iger if they're still going to issue the executive order, but he says he can't without the wise Mufasa's blessing. I get down on my knees and yell "Mufasa!" to the heavens right as I wake up in a cold sweat.
In all seriousness, what the hell were those guys thinking? It was the highest rated program ever to air on cable TV and how much ad revenue did Disney make? I couldn't tell you for sure, but I'd guess pretty modest numbers considering about 90% of the ads were for Disney channel programs. Even if they had sold ridiculously expensive ads for every moment of advertising and extended the show by a half an hour of just straight ads, that number would still pale in comparison to the five hundred million they'd bank in the worldwide box office if they released it as a movie, and that's a modest estimate. I know they're making a ton of money touring the young stars around singing their hearts out to stadiums, but those revenues would continue to stream on in, potentially even more so, had they released High School Musical 2 in theaters. A little birdie told me Disney's thinking of putting the inevitable High School Musical 3 out in theaters, although quite honestly, there shouldn't be anything to think about. I'm gonna be bold and throw it out there that I think High School Musical 3 will make no less than $750 million in the worldwide box office when all is said and done. It's about time Disney spent a little more time on financial planning and a little less time on ice show adaptations of every single one of their intellectual properties. Let me know what you guys think with a comment. Until next time...