Disney Channel is giving an early fourth season pickup to its hit scripted franchise Hannah Montana. The scripted musical series, which stars Miley Cyrus, has averaged 4.4 million viewers an episode since its March 2006 premiere.
Season three is wrapping production this week, with season four slated to start filming early next year. The network is also changing things up a bit for season four, having the Stewart family leave their Malibu home.
"Hannah Montana has become one of the most iconic series in television history," said Disney Channel's Worldwide Entertainment President Gary Marsh, announcing the pickup. "That is a direct result of the extraordinary collaboration between the show's producers, writers and cast - all of whom constantly challenge each other to raise the bar, comedically, musically and from a storytelling perspective. In keeping with that approach, Miley and the producers have proposed a change of setting for Season Four that will provide the catalyst for wonderful new characters and further expand the storytelling opportunities."
The Hannah Montana franchise has become a veritable mint for Disney, with hit records, concert tours, DVDs, consumer products and feature films all successfully spinning off from the series.
Disney Channel also gave the green light to a sophomore season of Sonny With a Chance, its most successful program with kids 6-11.
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