Despite Disney milking the teen musical to death, the Disney Channel have come up with a formula that’s different. Although it does seem to borrow from a “non-Disney” film in the area of plot. With a Back to the Future type storyline, but in the sand. All that’s missing is Michael J Fox and his sidekick Doc. Even without those two, Teen Beach Movie and its marriage of time travel and surfing dudes and chicks helped the Disney Channel break records for viewers on the Friday airing of the film.
According to the figures, the 60s time travel beach blanket film garnered 8.4 million viewers. That amount of people tuning into the channel to watch the film makes it the fifth highest-rated made-for-TV Disney movie of all time.
Teen Beach Movie was the top original movie premiere for the Disney Channel in more than four years. Even beating out the premiere of the 2006 High School Musical which only grabbed 7.7 million viewers.
The story centers around the two main characters and their mutual favorite beach musical, Wet Side Story, which is set in the 1960s. The two teenage surfer sweethearts get swept into the movie musical when they crash beneath a wave.
The film looks like a homage to those Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon Beach Blanket films of the 1960s and with a plot, in the film within a film storyline, that feels like it could have been taken off the screen of any old 1960s Disney film. Images of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes or any of the other live action films that Disney specialised in “back in the day,” spring to mind.
But the addition of the “more modern” plot device of time travel; a la Back to the Future sans DeLorean, Marty McFly and any oedipal imagery, obviously made for a winning combination for viewers on Friday. And helped the Disney channel break viewing number records.
Of course the made-for-TV film was heavily publicised, utilizing an international press tour — which included special performances on ABC’s Good Morning America and The View, and included stops in Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
But the movie does look like a lot of “more innocent” fun. The film has bright imagery, a lot of the old 60s style fashions, that include those old (and somewhat bigger) two piece bikinis and a whole beach full of nostalgic fun. Apparently the young actors who worked in the film loved the costumes so much that they spent quite some time trying to keep their outfits.
For those fans who watched the film on Friday, they might be wondering if a sequel is in the works. According to USA TODAY, director Jeffrey Hornaday gushed that, “I’d direct this movie for the rest of my life.” But Disney Channel Vice President Jennilee Cummings said, it was “too early to tell” whether a Teen Beach Movie 2 would happen.
For those fans of the Teen Beach Movie, or Back to the Future in the sand, as we like to call it; viewers can tune in tonight for the sing-along version of the film on the Disney Channel. Disney may just break another viewing record after tonight’s second “Karaoke” airing of the film.
By Michael Smith