Three years ago, Disney Channel was called "the greatest teen-star incubator since the NBA stopped drafting high schoolers."
But with Miley Cyrus moving on to Lindsay Lohan-land, the High School Musical stars now college-age, the Jonas Brothers morphing into the Jonas Men, and (most recently) Demi Lovato quitting, Disney Channel needs new stars.
Luckily, a Disney original movie about a fake band appears to have spawned the real deal.
Lemonade Mouth, a Disney Channel comic movie about a band of the same name, debuted on April 15th. Last week, its soundtrack reached #4 on Apple's iTunes album sales chart.
Today, when Nielsen SoundScan publishes its weekly album-sales ranking, the Wall Street Journal projects that "the top five is likely to include the Foo Fighters, British vocalist Adele and Lemonade Mouth—a band that doesn't exist, except in a made-for-TV movie." (Good call: Lemonade Mouth indeed debuted at #4.)
The movie is slated to run three more times before being released on DVD on May 24th. Disney executives are monitoring Lemonade Mouth's progress closely to see if it indeed has another tweentastic, money-printing franchise on its hands. It appears they do. As WSJ reports:
If Lemonade Mouth maintains its current interest level among its preteen audience, company executives say, it could spawn a miniature industry of sequels, perhaps even a big-screen adaptation, more albums by cast members and perhaps even a concert tour.
"We always say the audience will tell us how far we can go," said Gary Marsh, Disney Channel's chief creative officer. "We're probably two to three weeks away from knowing the staying power."
Some fans are unwilling to wait. Last week an online petition began circulating, demanding that Disney let them see the group in the flesh. "If you are a fan of Lemonade Mouth and wish Disney will make a tour, please sign this petition!"
The movie's stars, meanwhile, aren't waiting for the whims of fate to decide their future.
Hayley Kiyoko, a young actress who plays one of the Lemonade Mouth band members, and some of her co-stars staged a flash mob at the Apple store in The Grove in LA before the movie debuted. They performed one of the movie's signature tunes (Determinate) before being shut down by store security, and posting the video (at top) on her YouTube channel.
The Praise You-like stunt's clip went viral after Ashton Kutcher tweeted it to his 6.6 million followers:
Even with the help of the Mouse, today's young Disney stars not only need to have an abundance of talent. They need social marketing and digital savvy — and the moxie, it seems, to "determinate," as the song goes.