The Cheetah Girls is a Disney Channel original movie and girl group based on the fiction book of the same name. Former Essence writer, Deborah Gregory, wrote the novel series about four teenage girls from a myriad of ethnic backgrounds who performed together in a singing group. Disney adapted the book series into a film franchise starring Raven-Symone, Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams, and Sabrina Bryan.
The film became one of the most successful films released on the Disney Channel. Disney decided to turn the stars of the film into a group to capitalize on the film’s success. Original movie soundtracks were released and the group toured throughout the U.S. The group was at its peak for six years before going their separate ways.
Disney’s ‘The Cheetah Girls’ films
The film follows the lives of four teenage friends at a Manhattan Performing Arts High School. Galleria (Symone), Chanel (Bailon), Aqua (Williams), and Dorinda (Bryan) are promising singers and dancers who form their own group and chase their dreams of stardom. Disney released three films surrounding the group, – The Cheetah Girls (2003), The Cheetah Girls 2 (2006) and The Cheetah Girls: One World (2008).
The Cheetah Girls premiered to six million viewers during its original broadcast. The sequel follows the girls in Spain on their road to an international music festival. Its premiere received the highest ratings of all Disney Channel Movies at its time, a total of over 8.1 million viewers, beating the premiere ratings of High School Musical.
The final film of the franchise, One World, chronicles the group as they are cast in a lavish musical in India. The film excluded Symone’s character, which was explained by Galleria being away at college. The film franchise was backed by some of the best in the business, including Whitney Houston, who served as an executive producer.
Disney’s forms ‘The Cheetah Girls’ as a group
The Cheetah Girls did so well that Disney turned the fictional group into a reality. All four cast members participated in the group. In addition to the film soundtracks, the group released three studio albums: Cheetah-licious Christmas, In Concert: The Party’s Just Begun Tour, and TCG. All of their albums and soundtracks debuted in the Billboard 200.
The group’s brand was massive. The soundtrack to their first film sold over 2 million copies. Under their name, they released a clothing line, several perfume collections, doll lines, room decor, additional book series, and a video game line. The embarked on three nationwide tours and grossed over $40 million from their second.
Disney’s ‘The Cheetah Girls’ split
Symone did not participate in the third film. She allegedly had a horrible experience filming the second and opted out of filming the final installment. Symone focused on recording the music for her solo project while she worked on her Disney show as well as filmed a movie she was in with comedian, Martin Lawrence. In an onstage performance, she told the audience that though she loved working on the films with the group, she wanted an individualized career.
The third film did fairly well but was the lowest rated of the series. The group announced their third tour would be their final. Some fans assumed that Symone’s absence caused the group to have a hard time maintaining their success. Though Symone was an intricate part of the group and the sound of The Cheetah Girls changed, they did continue without her for some time. Bailon was left to carry the group as the lead singer following Symone’s departure while, Williams and Bryan focused on dancing.
The Cheetah Girls ended for a variety of reasons. For starters, the group members were getting older and essentially aging out of the Disney market. The movie franchise had also run its course. When the group disbanded, they each focused on their own careers and went on to do great things.