The Walt Disney Company in China is partnering with China’s Huayi Brothers Media Corporation and Shanghai Media Group to co-produce Disney High School Musical: China, a Chinese version of Disney’s High School Musical franchise.

Production started on November 21 on the film, Disney’s third local co-production in China in two years. Huayi Brothers will distribute in mainland China while Disney is handling worldwide rights.  The film is planned for release in summer 2010.

Janet Yang, whose credits as a producer include Empire Of The Sun, The People Vs Larry Flynt, and The Joy Luck Club, will produce while Chen Shizheng (2007’s Dark Matter) will direct.

The film will star with six young Chinese actors, some of whom have been drawn from the Chinese reality seriesLycra Talent Show.  Ma Zihan will portray the lead girl, a character like Gabriella Montez portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens in the Western franchise, while Zhang Junning plays a character similar to the Troy Bolton role, played by Zac Efron .

Similar to the original movie, Disney High School Musical: China tells of a new student who meets a gifted young man with whom she shares a secret passion for singing.  With the help of their friends they overcome the odds to win an inter-school singing competition and discover their true calling.

“Disney’s ongoing commitment to local content development underpins our strategy to connect with new audiences around the world,” Jason Reed, general manager, Walt Disney Studios International Production, said.

The project is Disney’s sixth local production. Previously, Disney has released The Magic Gourd from China (2007), Roadside Romeo from India in 2008, Trail Of The Panda (China 2009) and Book Of Masters from Russia, which is currently in release and is based on a classic Russian fairy tale.

Disney’s Indian local production Zokkomon, a Bollywood musical, is in development in India and expected to open in 2010.