The Walt Disney Company China Announces Local Adaptation 'Disney High School Musical: China'

Disney Studios commences third local co-production project in China and sixth globally

Nov 22, 2009, 05:00 ET from Walt Disney Studios

BURBANK, Calif. and SHANGHAI, Nov. 22 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Walt Disney Company in China today announced the start of production on its third local co-production project in just two years, "Disney High School Musical: China." Working with local partners Shanghai Media Group (SMG) and Huayi Brothers Media Corporation, the movie is planned for cinematic release in summer 2010.

Under development for over a year, and created uniquely for Chinese audiences, "Disney High School Musical: China" is the story of a new student who meets a gifted young man with whom she shares a secret passion for singing. With the help of their friends they overcome the odds to win an inter-school singing competition, and discover their true calling in the process.

"Disney's ongoing commitment to local content development underpins our strategy to connect with new audiences around the world," said Mr. Jason Reed, general manager, Walt Disney Studios International Production. "Our local team has done an amazing job and we are fortunate to be building on the Disney Channel's success by working with a world class cast and crew led by our producer Janet Yang and visionary director Shi Zheng Chen.

"The choice of the right stories and best local partners is key to the success of our localization strategy. Shanghai Media Group and Huayi Brothers Media Corporation are leaders in their field and their involvement and contribution to this project is invaluable," added Mr. Reed.

In 2007, the Studio's first Disney branded local co-production, the award-winning, "The Magic Gourd" was released, followed by "Roadside Romeo" from India in 2008, "Trail of the Panda" (China 2009) and the feature film, "Book of Masters" (Russian 2009), based on a classic Russian fairy tale which opened in first place at the box office in October. Disney's sixth local production "Zokkomon" is currently in development in India and is expected to open in 2010.

"Chinese audiences enjoy great storytelling. "Disney High School Musical: China" promotes classic values of teamwork, optimism, friendship, pride and the spirit of self discovery which have made HSM a worldwide phenomenon and further cements Disney's position as a family entertainment brand in China," said Mr. Stanley Cheung, executive vice president and managing director, The Walt Disney Company Greater China.

"Disney High School Musical: China" is being filmed in Shanghai and features six new young stars drawn from across China.

Ms. Yang Wenhong, head of SMG's Film and TV Drama Centre said, "High School Musical is a brand recognized and is beloved by kids and families globally. For SMG, this is a whole new experience to develop a China version by working with Disney and Huayi Brothers. Through our collaboration, we hope we can also bring the musical genre to movie goers here as well."

"Disney HSM: China is destined to pioneer a new genre for young Chinese moviegoers by seamlessly combining the art forms of dance, music and film together with valuable themes like teamwork, youthful energy and friendship," said Huayi Brothers Media Corporation President James Wang.

CHEN SHI-ZHENG (director), one of China's leading stage and film directors, most recently helmed "The Coronation of Poppea" for English National Opera. His other Western operatic credits include "Vespers of 1610," "Orfeo" (a nominee for a Laurence Olivier Award), "Cosi fan Tutte," "Dido and Aeneas," and "The Flying Dutchman." Born in Changsha, Hunan, China, Chen made his directorial debut in 1996 with "The Bacchae" for the China National Beijing Opera Company. In 1999, his landmark 19-hour production of "The Peony Pavilion" was hailed as one of the most important theatrical events of the Twentieth Century. Additional directing credits include the operas "Monkey: Journey to the West," "Orphan of Zhao," "Snow in June," "Peach Blossom Fan," and "Night Banquet." His first feature film, "Dark Matter," was an official entry at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Award. In 2000, Chen was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

JANET YANG (producer) has worked in the film industry for more than two decades, played an important role in bringing Hollywood films to China, and been associated with some of the best known directors and actors in the world. From 1989 - 1996, she served as president of Ixtlan, the company she ran with Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone, and spearheaded all aspects of the company's development and production. Prior to that, she worked closely with Steven Spielberg and his Amblin Entertainment as a production executive at MCA/Universal. While at Universal, she initiated the project "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story." Representing several of the top Hollywood Studios, she brokered the sale of the first American movies sold in the Chinese Market. Named one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Hollywood" by the Hollywood Reporter, and featured in articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Variety, Harper's Bazaar, Yang's resume also includes Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun," Milos Forman's "The People vs. Larry Flynt," and Wayne Wang's "The Joy Luck Club." She continues to produce films under her long-time banner, "The Manifest Film Company."

About The Walt Disney Company in China

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS), together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international family entertainment enterprise with five business segments and is a Dow 30 company with revenues of nearly $38 billion in its most recent fiscal year. Our first animation screened in China in the 1930s and today our long association continues with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou with over 600 employees.

About High School Musical

Disney's "High School Musical" premiered in January 2006 on Disney Channel U.S. and posted the highest ever ratings for a Disney Channel Original Movie at the time. It went on to become a smash hit internationally, airing on Disney Channels and free-to-air broadcasters worldwide. To-date, it has reached more than 290 million viewers, in over 30 languages, across 100 countries including India, China and Russia. The "High School Musical" soundtrack was the #1 album of 2006 and the DVD was the year's #1 TV movie on DVD. "High School Musical" also delivered licensed amateur and professional touring stage productions, a best-selling junior novel, a popular consumer products franchise at mass retailers, a themed show at Disneyland Parks and Resorts in Anaheim, Orlando and Paris, and a sold-out 42 date arena concert tour in North America and Latin America. Its critically acclaimed sequel, "High School Musical 2," ranks as the #1 basic cable telecast of all time (18.6 million viewers for its August 17, 2007 premiere) and thus far has been seen by nearly 300 million total viewers, in over 30 languages, around the world. The "High School Musical 2" soundtrack is triple Platinum and its DVD release was the top-selling TV property on DVD for 2007. Walt Disney Pictures debuted "High School Musical 3: Senior Year" in October 2008. Its premiere weekend box office sales marked the highest debut ever for a musical and for a live-action G-rated film and it grossed $250 million at the worldwide box office. Disney Channel will bring the franchise back to television with the debut of "High School Musical East Meets West" in 2011.

About Shanghai Media Group

Shanghai Media Group (SMG) is the second largest media conglomerate in China and one of the most influential players in the Chinese-language media and entertainment group. SMG has the most complete portfolio of media and related businesses including television, radio, print media, new media, content distribution, performing arts, movie and film investment and production, home shopping, education and training.

SMG operates 13 TV channels, 11 radio frequencies, 9 newspapers and magazines, 30 digital TV channels (16 nationwide and 14 in Shanghai local areas) and broadband Internet TV, mobile TV and IPTV. SMG's prime-time TV and radio penetration rates top 70% and 90% respectively in Shanghai, and has become the largest content and service provider and distributor of Chinese language programs in China.

About Huayi Brothers Media Corporation

Founded in 1994, the Huayi Brothers Media Corporation is now the biggest privately-owned media and entertainment group in China. It gained approval in October 2009 for its listing on China's Growth Enterprise Market, and was the first entertainment company to receive IPO approval in China. Its diversified lines of business include: film production and distribution, TV series production and distribution, talent management, music production, theatrical exhibition etc.

Huayi Brothers' film production arm is known for its market-oriented approach to filmmaking and distribution. In recent years, it produced titles such as "A World Without Thieves," "The Banquet," "Assembly," "The Forbidden Kingdom," "If You are the One" and "The Message," which all won critical acclaim and topped the Chinese box office charts.

SOURCE Walt Disney Studios