HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE

SWEET NIBBLETS! IT'S 15 YEARS SINCE HANNAH WENT TO THE BIG SCREEN

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
31st March 2024

It's impossible to talk about children's television without mentioning 'Hannah Montana'. While the Disney Channel had many successes with 'That's So Raven' and of course 'Lizzie McGuire', 2006 changed everything. First in January when 'High School Musical' changed the face of Disney Channel Original Movies forever - but that was only the beginning. The 24th of March would see the debut of 'Hannah Montana', and the next five years would not only be historic for the network but for the entire Disney brand. Following a simple premise like most other Disney Channel series, Miley Stewart is a normal teen but when she dons a blonde wig, she becomes global pop star Hannah Montana. This allows her to separate her fame and normal life so we get to see her struggle with family issues, boys and friendships like most other tween shows - but also perform to sold out stadiums; she truly has 'The Best of Both Worlds'.

Midway through the second season, the first big screen expansion for the franchise happened with 'Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concerts' - in 3D, of course. The film drew an impressive US$70 million at the global box office and still holds the record for biggest opening weekend for a film released on Super Bowl weekend. It also is the third-highest-grossing concert film of all time, only being bumped down from the second spot last year due to 'Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour'. With the concert film, a yearly gross of US$1 billion in merchandise sales and an average viewership of 3.5 million, it was inevitable that a full-on theatrical venture was going to happen - and in April 2008, production began.

'HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE' TRAILER

'Hannah Montana: The Movie' follows Miley (Miley Cyrus, 'The Night Before', 'The Last Song') being sent back to her roots in Tennessee. Hannah Montana is consuming her life so her Dad, Robby Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus, 'The Spy Next Door', 'Sharknado 2'), and best friend Lilly (Emily Osment, 'Spy Kids' franchise, 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' franchise) are off to her hometown. Here she reconnects with her Meemaw (Margo Martindale, 'Instant Family', 'Cocaine Bear'), childhood crush Travis (Lucas Till, 'X-Men: First Class', 'Walk the Line'), and begins to question if Hannah is still worth it!

To no one's surprise, the film brought in a massive box office income, grossing US$162 million globally, eclipsing 'The Lizzie McGuire Movie' with its US$55 million taking. The soundtrack went double platinum in the United States and its DVD release grossed an additional US$65 million.

In terms of TV shows transitioning to movies featuring the original cast, it doesn't get much better than 'Hannah Montana: The Movie'.

The tagline "She has the best of both worlds but now she has to choose just one" did create a lot of speculation over whether this was the end of 'Hannah Montana'. The film premiered during its third season, with an episode airing a mere ten days after the film's premiere. As we know, the film ends with Miley revealing to her small town that she is, in fact, the global superstar but they promise to keep it a secret (an absolutely wild thing for the whole town to just agree to and keep their promise). The secret wouldn't be revealed to the world until mid-way through the final season. The film never directly impacts the narrative of the series, which is almost always the case when a film is released during a show still running. It instead served as a shift toward the conclusion, with the end of the third season more directly referencing Miley's hometown and eventually moving back to Tennessee.

In terms of TV shows transitioning to movies featuring the original cast, it doesn't get much better than 'Hannah Montana: The Movie'. It truly does what any film to TV show should do, and that's capture the spirit of it on a theatrical scale. If you're a fan, it absolutely delivers on every level.

'Hannah Montana: The Movie' sits in that untouchable category of films for a certain generation. It has more than stood the test of time for the last 15 years - 'Hannah Montana' was such a cultural phenomenon that it changed tween media forever, and we have never seen anything reach its level again. With streaming and the Disney Channel fumbling and being shut down in multiple countries, we most likely will never see anything like it. If you're like me, the steps to 'Hoedown Throwdown' are ingrained in you, you know every word to 'The Climb' and cry when it shows up on shuffle. Don a blonde wig, find a never-ending revolving door and relive 'The Best of Both Worlds'.

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