But it was the painfully sincere kids of HSM3
who showed the most power. It not only broke records (it's also the top live-action G-rated film), it added even more cash to a franchise that has pumped $2 billion into Disney's coffers and likely ensured a fourth movie.
And while the HSM
franchise isn't the draw of, say, Pixar's best animated fare, it has become a family favorite with a device that Hollywood isn't known for employing: earnestness.
"When we were making the jump to movies, we didn't want to suddenly give a wink to the camera or make them any less genuine," says Disney's Chuck Viane. "This has always been a franchise based on, frankly, kids dancing and having fun. We weren't going to mess with that."
No need to when HSM
has spawned a Broadway musical, two No. 1 albums and ubiquitous merchandising.
That success, analysts say, comes from unexpected corners. "It may be about high school, but it's not high school kids who are turning out," says Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com. "It's 7- and 8-year-old kids who want to be in high school."