“Teen Beach 2” stars and fans kicked off the week with some fun in the sun for the TV movie’s premiere party and screening at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, Calif. on Monday evening.
Ross Lynch, Maia Mitchell, Garrett Clayton, Grace Phipps (pictured) and the entire cast of the hotly-anticipated “Teen Beach Movie” sequel sat in the audience among a room full of lucky kiddos who screened the Disney Channel Original Movie, days before Friday night’s television debut.
Director and choreographer Jeffrey Hornaday, who returned in his original roles for the follow-up flick, reminded attendees that the first film ranked as the No. 2 television cable movie of all time, only behind Disney’s own “High School Musical.”
“It was beyond our wildest expectations,” Hornaday said, sharing that Mouse House insiders have been rumbling about the sequel being even better than the original, which debuted to 13.5 million viewers in 2013.
As for “High School Musical” comparisons, Clayton, who plays Tanner, one of the lead four characters, told Variety, “Besides being on Disney Channel and being a musical, I think we’re vastly different.” If anything, the success is a point of similarity, though Clayton said the cast is managing their expectations even though the pressure is on. “It was kind of scary the first time around. We just went into it like, whatever happens, happens. We put our best into it so good luck to us all — and that’s kind of how I feel this time.”
Diving into a second movie brought along challenges and changes, but Clayton promises viewers can expect more of what they loved two summers ago, just bigger and better. “The one thing I always recognize in sequels is that it seems like the second one, nine times out of 10, they change everything,” he said. “I think a lot of it was trying to find the balance of giving everyone what they loved with the first, but then giving them a bunch of fresh ideas and things they never thought about these people. I just focused on giving people what they loved and then adding to it.”
Besides changes on-screen, the cast also experienced major transitions off-screen, as “Teen Beach Movie” made stars out of the actors. WME-repped Mitchell leads ABC Family’s drama “The Fosters,” now in its third season. The newly-signed UTA client Lynch recently wrapped the fourth and final season of his Disney Channel hit “Austin & Ally,” and is the lead singer of mega-successful band R5. The group performed at Monday’s screening afterparty (pictured below).
“Now, we’re actually famous,” Clayton joked when reminiscing of the last “Teen Beach” premiere. “People will be like, ‘Are you famous? Can I take a picture?’ And I’m like, ‘You don’t even know who I am!'”
This time around, however, fans were waiting to take selfies with the actor, who was able to sneak away for this brief interview. With a laugh, he adds, “Now, Christmas shopping is a whole new venture.”
While partygoers enjoyed arts and crafts, of-age beverages and a snack-filled buffet at the outdoor fest where Disney Channel’s head of casting Judy Taylor was schmoozing with the cast, Clayton surmised the idea of a “Teen Beach 3,” much like “High School Musical,” which moved from the small screen to the silver screen for the third go. While a third sequel is not in the works, Clayton said he and his pals would be open to jumping back on the surfboard.
“I always say it depends on the script and the story you’re going to tell. I think we’ve all kind of said if it’s a good script, why wouldn’t we want to make it?” He continued, “I have my own personal ideas of what it should be, but that’s just me.”
If another movie was greenlit, Clayton would also like to see the project head into theaters. “I feel like we would have established a solid enough fanbase at that point that the audience is there for it so they would want to see it because they’d want to see how the story ends — especially if they’ve committed to being obsessed with two films.”
(Pictured above: “Teen Beach 2” cast at Walt Disney Studios)