A third instalment in Disney's record-breaking High School Musical franchise has been confirmed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Productions.

After the smash success of the first two TV movies, High School Musical 3: Senior Year is to be given a cinema release, making its Stateside bow on October 24th, Variety reports.

As well as launching the careers of leads Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, the franchise has spawned a staggeringly popular range of merchandise, with the soundtracks storming the US charts.

Some 250 million viewers have watched High School Musical since its 2006 debut according to Disney and inspired by the small screen success of the adventures of the Wildcats, a big screen outing has been commissioned, with the series regulars and director Kenny Ortega all set to return.

Talking to People magazine, Ortega described himself as "the luckiest guy in the world".

"This will be our last time together and I love working with these kids so much," he added. "It's going to be great."

Ashley Tisdale, who stars as East High diva Sharpay said she was "excited" at the news.

"But it's going to be sad. It seems like it will be graduation and I'll be crying while we're filming," she explained.

According to Disney, High School Musical 3: Senior Year will see Troy (Efron) and Gabriella (Hudgens) dealing with the frightening prospect of heading off to college the only way they know how - by staging a musical.

15/01/2008 11:30:34