After finding repeated success with High School Musical, Disney Channel has decided to shake up the formula was the addition of the undead.
The cable channel has started production on Zombies, a "music- and-dance-filled" Disney Channel Original Movie about what happens when students from Zombietown transfer to Seabrook High School, a suburban school "preoccupied with uniformity, traditions and pep rallies." As with High School Musical, the story centers on star-crossed lovers, this time cheerleader Addison (Meg Donnelly) and zombie football star Zed (Milo Manheim), who must "lead their community to coexistence" after falling in love.
The movie will be overseen by Disney Channel veterans Jeffrey Hornaday and Christopher Scott, who previously worked together on Teen Beach Movie. Hornaday will direct, as well as co-choreograph with Scott. The teleplay for Zombies comes from David Light, Joseph Raso and Josh Cagan. Effie Brown, one of the minds behind projects like Dear White People and Star, will serve as executive producer.
In addition to Donnelly and Manheim, the cast includes Trevor Tordjman as Addison's cousin and head cheerleader Bucky, Kylee Russell as Zed's zombie best friend Eliza, and Carla Jeffery as Addison's friend Bree.
"We're thrilled to be working with Jeffrey Hornaday again to bring this new world of zombies and cheerleading to life," Adam Bonnett, executive vice president of Original Programming, Disney Channels Worldwide, said in a statement. "Jeffrey and Chris Scott have delivered some of our most memorable musical sequences on Disney Channel; and now with Effie Brown on board as an executive producer, we are excited to deliver this inspirational story about tolerance, inclusion, individuality and conviction - each relatable themes for our viewers."
Musicals have proven successful for Disney in the past, so it's perhaps unsurprising that they're producing another one. The Disney Channel has broadcast six of the top seven original cable movies ever, and of those six, four were live-action musicals (High School Musical 2, Teen Beach Movie, Descendants and Camp Rock).