The question was: Could three Jonases take down one Zac Efron? The answer was yes—and no.
Friday night's premiere of the Jonas Brothers-populated TV musical Camp Rock averaged 8.9 million viewers, the Disney Channel said today.
That's bigger than the original, Efron-led High School Musical, which debuted before 7.7 million viewers. But it's smaller—significantly smaller—than the 17.2 million who turned out for last August's return of Efron in High School Musical 2.
HSM2 stands as the most watched non-sports program ever on cable.
The Camp Rock premiere came at the start of what has been referenced as the summer of the Jonas Brothers. But even the seemingly all-powerful tween dream of a band couldn't find a way around an elemental law of the box office: Sequels, like HSM2, are tough to beat.
Judging Camp Rock's performance against the original High School Musical, meanwhile, is an inexact science. The Jonas Brothers are far bigger stars than Efron or any of his costars were in January 2006, when the first HSM premiered.
High School Marathon
Tue., Jun. 24, 2008 2:00 PM PDT by Joal Ryan
Camp Rock premiered big and repeated well. Now it only has to keep it up for another, oh, two and a half years.
Like High School Musical.
Giving the Jonas Brothers' vehicle something to shoot for, the original HSM kept on keeping on last week, scoring nearly as many viewers for its 33rd — yes, 33rd — airing as a two-day-old rerun of Camp Rock.
A Thursday night High School Musical broadcast averaged 3.1 million viewers for the Disney Channel, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's not far off from the 3.7 million who caught Sunday's Camp Rock outing on Disney's sister network, ABC Family Channel.
Overall, the numbers for Camp Rock were strong. As previously reported, Friday's cable-topping premiere averaged 8.9 million viewers, more than HSM's own debut, and more than anything else on TV on Friday night.
Its two weekend repeats, on ABC and ABC Family channel, averaged a combined 7.2 million. In all, Disney said 21 million people spent at least part of their weekend at Camp Rock—22.4 million, if you count people in Canada—and ordered up a sequel.
A cable phenomenon, however, is not made in one weekend.
In 2006, for example, the Disney Channel movie The Cheetah Girls 2 also outdrew HSM's premiere, 7.8 million to 7.7 million viewers. But while the Cheetah Girls franchise has proved a keeper, its TV movies have not consistently topped the cable ratings like HSM (or old Lindsay Lohan movies, for that matter).
More than a year and a half after its January 2006 debut, HSM could still draw 5 million viewers, more than most new cable shows. At its two-year anniversary, it attracted 4.5 million.
Zac Efron's showering habits may be in question, but not his franchise's ability to draw consistent ratings.
My 2 cents: Camp Rock had some cute moments and some good songs, but the plot was so severely underdeveloped, rushed, and full of ridiculous plot points. It felt like everybody was trying so hard to make it commercial and marketable, it became uncomfortable and unnatural. The dancing was not that interesting and Joe Jonas is kind of cute, but not as cute or charismatic as Zef.
The fact that Camp Rock was pushed so hard and featured tween megastars the JoBros and still managed to pull in only 1 million more viewers than the first HSM featuring a cast of mostly unknowns does not speak well for Camp Rock's perennial success though we'll see what happens with the reruns. Not a dud, but not as big as the Mouse hoped.