$2 million in incentives offered to High School Musical

$2 million in incentives offered to High School Musical

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The third installment of "High School Musical" will be filmed in Utah after the state offered $2 million in incentives to keep the popular franchise from going elsewhere.

Shooting begins April 21 and is expected to wrap June 13, according to documents filed with the Governor's Office of Economic Development board. While the first two films premiered on the Disney Channel television network, the new movie will debut in movie theaters in the second half of 2008.

To help lure the production back to where it began, at Salt Lake City's East High School, the state approved a maximum $2 million incentive for the production, the largest ever given to entice a filmmaker to Utah.

East High School Principal Paul Sagers said he and Salt Lake City School District officials have been meeting with Disney executives about renting the East High building for filming. Shooting is scheduled for 41 days, longer than the first two movies.

"At least verbally we all committed to doing that," he said. "They've basically asked to use the classrooms, the halls, the gyms . . . and the commons area (the lunch room)."

The popularity of the first two movies has led to people from across the country visiting East High School to see where the films were made.

The first two movies have been lucrative for Disney, generating merchandising that includes dolls, videos, and a national concert tour. The films have been seen by more than 160 million people in the U.S. and dozens of foreign countries.

Utah provided $263,000 and $500,000 in incentives for the first two films, respectively, to get them produced here. The incentives come in the form of a 15 percent rebate on what the production spends in Utah. In documents filed with the state, Disney officials said the production company would spend an estimated $13.3 million in Utah on High School Musical 3.

"Each one has gradually become more prestigious after the success of the first one," said Marshall Moore, director of the Utah Film Commission. "And going from a cable release to a theatrical release certainly solidifies its position as a franchise."


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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