Disney makes "High School Musical 4" with new cast

LOS ANGELES Tue Mar 3, 2009 3:45pm EST

A girl poses with the ''High School Musical 3 Got the Moves Dance Mat'' toy at the Dream Toys exhibition in London October 15, 2008. The Toy Retailers Association predicts the toy to be one of the top 12 toys for Christmas. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

A girl poses with the ''High School Musical 3 Got the Moves Dance Mat'' toy at the Dream Toys exhibition in London October 15, 2008. The Toy Retailers Association predicts the toy to be one of the top 12 toys for Christmas.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Hird

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co's teen hit franchise "High School Musical" is coming back for a fourth time -- but with a new cast of characters, the company said on Tuesday.

"High School Musical 4" will debut on the Disney Channel in 2010 -- marking a return to its original cable home after the third instalment danced into movie theaters in 2008.

Disney Channel said in a statement the story would feature a music- and dance-filled love triangle set against cross-town rivalry between fictional high schools in Albuquerque, N.M.

It will introduce a new cast of characters after the fictional "graduation" of the original stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale in "High School Musical 3: Senior Year".

"High School Musical" and its spin-offs have proved a lucrative global franchise for Disney since the first made-for-TV movie aired on the Disney Channel in January 2006.

The first two TV movies have been seen by some 300 million viewers in more than 100 nations, including India, China and Russia, produced a hit soundtrack album, a concert tour and a vast range of toys, clothes and books.

"High School Musical 3: Senior Year" -- the first to be made as a feature movie -- has grossed some $250 million at the worldwide box office since its October 2008 release.

Most of the original cast said last year they would not be returning if a fourth instalment were made.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)

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