Chinese School Musical

Only two weeks after announcing that the Chinese government had approved a new Disneyland theme park in Shanghai, Walt Disney Enterprises announced it would co-produce a Chinese film version of its hit “High School Musical.”

The new production, which is being made with the Shanghai Media Group and the Huayi Brothers Media Corp., will be fully localized.

The basic story of a boy and girl falling in love against the background of adolescent education will remain intact but, to be more culturally accurate, the setting will be moved out of high school and into the first year of university.

“In China, students in high school are so focused on academics that it wasn’t realistic to portray them singing and dancing in the way that American high school students have time for,” Jason Reed, general manager of Walt Disney Studios International Production, told China Daily.

Also, instead of a musical theater production, the subject of the competition will be a singing contest. The main male love interest will be a poet instead of a basketball player.

Nevertheless, basketball will play a part in the plot. Disney originally proposed replacing the basketball team in the original story with a kung fu training class, but Chinese collaborators pointed out that basketball is much more popular today in Chinese schools than martial arts, so it stays in.

The six main characters in the musical will be recruited from all over China.