One of the last times I walked through Disney TVA -- the animation studios that is now run by a the Disney Channel -- an artist mournfully told me:
"The Channel hasn't greenlit any new mainstream cartoon series lately. Looks like they're going for the little kid demographic with Mickey's Clubhouse and My Friends Tigger and Pooh and going after the teens and tweens with blockbuster live action movies and series. You know, things like High School Musical..."
I've no idea whether what this veteran artist told me has the core of truth to it or not, but you wonder if he could be onto something. Especially when you see something like this:
...[E]very division at Disney is geared up for "High School Musical 2" ahead of its TV debut on Friday, with expectations running high for the movie and its franchise.
"What's different for the second one is that demand is soaring," Rich Ross, president of Disney Channel Worldwide, said in an interview. "Every division at Disney has figured out how it makes sense for their products to roll out."
Disney apparently was caught flat-footed when the original teevee flick -- which cost $4.2 million -- became a worldwide sensation that made back way more than its cost:
Disney estimates the "High School Musical" franchise will contribute an estimated $100 million in operating income in 2006 and 2007 and has forecast it will grow to $650 million in global retail sales in fiscal 2008.
Judging by the ratings for the new flick High School Musical 2 the moolah estimates are well-founded:
The Friday night premiere of the Disney Channel made-for-television movie "High School Musical 2" has set numerous ratings records and delivered the largest single audience in basic-cable television history, according to preliminary ratings reports provided by Disney.
In early overnight estimates, the debut of "High School Musical 2," a sequel to the wildly popular 2006 children's television movie about a diverse group of teenagers who learn to channel their inner theater geeks, was watched by 17.2 million viewers nationwide.
So. Is the Diz Channel going to be more excited in chasing the golden grail with cheap "all singing, all dancing" extravaganzas and allow animation to languish in the little kid ghetto? And leave it at that?
I tend not to think so. I like to believe that all this money the Channel is raking in from its new musical franchise will mean DC will get more muscular in the animated arena as well. After all, if the twelve-year-old set wants musicals in high schools, why not in 'toon-land as well? Worked pretty well for Beauty and the Beast, after all.
I guess I'll hunker down behind my keyboard and wait to see what develops.