08/20/2007 AT 9:20 AM ET
Zac Efron forever!
The dreamboat, along with costar (and girlfriend) Vanessa Hudgens and the rest of the gang, pulled off a masterstroke this weekend with Disney’s High School Musical 2, attracting 17.24 million viewers on Friday.
This makes their original movie’s premiere the single most-watched basic cable telecast in history, Reuters reports.
The sequel to 2006’s surprise runaway hit High School Musical outscored the previous ratings record holder, ESPN’s Monday Night Football game on Sept. 23, 2006, which averaged 16 million viewers.
The numbers for HSM2 also make it the most-watched program on TV since the season finale of FOX’s hit drama House on May 29 drew 17.26 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.
What is also being taken into consideration is that, unlike the House finale, a lot of people (kids, especially, along with their parents) watched Friday’s broadcast at viewing parties – which means the actual number of viewers was likely even higher than what’s being reflected in the tallies.
In terms of demographics, Musical 2 ranked as the most-watched TV telecast ever among children aged 6 to 11 (6.1 million), and was the most-watched entertainment telecast ever (and the second-highest-rated overall, behind only the 2004 Super Bowl) among tweens aged 9-14 (5.9 million), according to the Hollywood Reporter.
But wait, there’s more to come: High School Musical 3 is in the works – as is a movie feature that will play in theaters. And Musical 4 is in the planning stages.
These are in addition to the already-existing DVDs, CDs, games, live performances and lines of clothing and merchandise that the original High School Musical spawned. Also on tap for the Disney Channel: the upcoming debut of High School Musical: The Music In You, described by the Hollywood Reporter as a musical-documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple that chronicles how some Texas teens produced their own stage version of Musical.
Meanwhile, as far as the franchise’s stars are concerned, at the HSM2 premiere at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., last week, Efron, 19, and Hudgens, 18, were united on the blue carpet and cuddling safe enough for the throngs of under-12 fans – which in large number wanted Efron’s autograph.
“He’s an amazing guy,” was all Hudgens would tell PEOPLE.
Efron, however, shared his mutual admiration of Hudgens. “Working with Vanessa was a dream come true,” he told PEOPLE.
Reporting by NICHOLAS WHITE