It’s being reported that Disney is currently working on the script for High School Musical 4; for those keeping track at home, production doesn’t start on HSM3 for another 2 weeks.

Disney Channel president Rich Ross said that HSM4 will be a TV movie like the first two, and that he doesn’t expect to have the whole cast back.  In fact, he said that he hopes to get any of them back. So what would HSM be without its cast? Kids aren’t tuning in to see the flashy dance numbers and snappy dialog. They may enjoy them after they’re already watching it, but what pulled in their attention was the all-star lineup.

The first High School Musical was popular at first, but it wasn’t a phenomenon.  After it came out, Disney matured the HSM brand and sold kids on the idea that the relative nobodies in this made-for-TV movie were celebrities.  The kids accepted that, and by the time HSM2 came along, its cast was comprised of A-listers who just months before weren’t even on the map.  Without its cast, High School Musical is nothing.

In following the cast==popularity formula, High School Musical 3 is going to be enormous.  Even in theaters, it will be an explosion. But taking it back to the small screen with a bunch of question marks? Disney is just setting itself up for embarrassment. Not to mention that it can’t be good luck to have a film and its sequel in pre-production at the same time.