Promotional poster
Based onZombies & Cheerleaders
by David Light & Joseph Raso
Written byDavid Light & Joseph Raso
Directed byPaul Hoen
ComposerGeorge S. Clinton
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers
ProducerMary Pantelidis
CinematographyRobert Drinkmann
EditorLisa Jane Robison
Running time94 minutes
Production companiesPrincessa Productions, LTD
Original release
NetworkDisney Channel
ReleaseFebruary 16, 2018 (2018-02-16)

Zombies[a] is an American musical and zombie Disney Channel Original Movie that premiered on Disney Channel on February 16, 2018.[2] The film is based on the unaired pilot Zombies & Cheerleaders by David Light and Joseph Raso, and stars Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly, playing zombie football player Zed and human cheerleader Addison who meet and fall in love, and who must lead their respective groups to coexist with each other.

Zombies was successful for Disney Channel upon its premiere; the movie received just over two and a half million views during its initial February 2018 premiere.[3] Critically, Zombies received mixed reviews with praise directed towards the positive messages and songs but criticism towards the plot's predictability.[4][5] The franchise that has spawned from the film resulted in the release of a sequel, Zombies 2, which premiered on Disney Channel on February 14, 2020. A third movie, Zombies 3, premiered on Disney+ on July 15, 2022, before airing on Disney Channel on August 12, 2022.[6][7]


Fifty years ago in the planned community of Seabrook, an accident at the Seabrook Power Plant resulted in an explosion that caused half the population of Seabrook to turn into brain-eating zombies. Those that weren't affected constructed a wall to quarantine the zombies from the rest of Seabrook in a territory called Zombietown. The government later created bracelets for zombies, called Z-Bands, that deliver soothing electromagnetic pulses to keep zombies from craving brains. In the present day, zombie students from Zombietown transfer to the human high school, Seabrook High, where suburban life is filled with uniformity, traditions, and pep rallies. The zombies in the school are patrolled by Dale, whose daughter Addison and nephew Bucky are on the school's cheerleading team.

Addison begins a relationship with a zombie student named Zed, who is an exceptional player on the school's football team due to his Z-Band being hacked by Eliza, one of his zombie friends. Addison and Zed's relationship is initially unknown to all of the students and staff except two of Zed's zombie friends, Eliza and Bonzo. Bucky, who leads the cheerleading team, is jealous of Zed's popularity and makes sure Addison is not able to meet him. Addison is invited by Zed to attend the zombie party in Zombietown. She attends and has a private moment with Zed in the "zombie park". Just before the pair can kiss, however, the Zombie Patrol crashes the party and takes away Addison. At home, Dale and his wife Missy, the mayor of Seabrook, find out that she has a new crush and advise her not to do any cheering until they know who it is, not knowing that the crush is a zombie. The next day, Zed shows up on Addison's doorstep looking human. He and Addison leave her house and go on a date, where he admits he's been messing with his Z-band. Addison tells him that it is the others that have to change, not him.

On the day of the homecoming game, Bucky finds out about Zed's Z-Band hack and has his followers Stacey, Tracey and Lacey steal Eliza's laptop to hack the Z-Bands. They succeed, resulting in Zed, Eliza, and Bonzo turning into "full zombies" and being taken away by the Zombie Patrol.

Most of the cheerleaders, including Addison and Bree, show their sympathy for the zombies at the game. Addison calls out the crowd for seeing Zed and the other zombies as monsters, which led him to transform into a full zombie to win the game. She then rips off her wig exposing her naturally white hair, which she had hidden due to the residents of Seabrook being against anything different, angering her parents.

Bucky kicks out all of the zombie-supporting cheerleaders following the incident. When the cheerleader competition nears, Addison and Bree find Zed and Bonzo trying to stop Eliza from sabotaging the competition as revenge for Bucky's decision, after Eliza talks with her friends, she realizes that doing so is not the right thing to do. Bucky's team starts to fail because they do not have enough members, so Zoey, Zed's little sister, tries to get in and help him. At first, Zoey is booed by the crowd, but with help from Addison and Zed, the zombies and cheerleaders come together to make a cheer routine during the Cheer competition. Zed and Addison tell each other they love each other in Zombie-Tongue.

The zombies and humans reunite with each other via a block party in Zombietown.



The set of Seabrook High School in Toronto, Ontario.

Production on the film began in May 2017.[8][9] The film was shot in Toronto over 10 weeks.[10]


Main article: Zombies (soundtrack)


Critical response

Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media rated the movie 3 out of 5 stars, praising the positive message and role models, stating, "There's stereotyping on both sides of the divide for most of the story, as well as some mean-spirited exchanges between humans and zombies, often driven by adults. But the relationship that develops between a human girl (Meg Donnelly) and a zombie boy (Milo Manheim) has a big impact, inspiring their peers to set aside misconceptions and befriend each other. [...] Addison's struggle to let her true self show, and kids will love the catchy soundtrack and dance scenes."[4] Rachel Wagner of Rotoscopers.com rated the movie 4 out of 5 stars, stating, "If you are a fan of the recent Disney Channel musicals then you will definitely love Zombies. It is one of the better entries of late with a sweet message, likable cast and energetic musical numbers."[11] Kyle Burbank of Laughing Place gave the film 3.5 out of 5, writing, "While it may seem strange to single out, perhaps my favorite part of Zombies was the production design. Sticking to a color palette of mostly pinks and greens ranging from neon to pastel might sound nauseating but actually works quite well. [...] With a fresh look, fun characters, and a serviceable soundtrack, this is one DCOM I might actually recommend."[5]

According to Billboard, the soundtrack of the movie placed No. 4 on Billboard's list of top-selling children's music titles.[12]


During its premiere in the 8:00 PM time slot, Zombies attracted a total of 2.57 million viewers with a 0.46 rating for people aged 18–49.[13][14] Over its premiere weekend, the movie reached nearly 13 million viewers, four million of which were children, over 10 telecasts, and was the number one movie on DisneyNow for over three weeks.[15][16]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2019 Canadian Cinema Editors Awards Best Editing in Family, Television Movie or Series Lisa Robison Nominated [17]
Humanitas Prize Children's Teleplay David Light, Joseph Raso Nominated [18]


Main articles: Zombies 2 and Zombies 3

In February 2019, it was announced that a Zombies sequel was going into production with returning stars, director, and writers; filming took place in spring 2019.[19][20] Production began on the sequel in May 2019, with Pearce Joza, Chandler Kinney, and Ariel Martin joining the cast of the film.[21] Zombies 2 premiered on February 14, 2020.[22] A third film, titled Zombies 3, was announced on March 22, 2021, and was filmed in Toronto in spring.[23] In May 2022, it was announced that the film would premiere on July 15, 2022 on Disney+ as an original film of the service, and that its Disney Channel premiere would be on August 12.[24]


  1. ^ Sometimes stylized with hyphens as Z-O-M-B-I-E-S.[1]


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  12. ^ Newman, Melinda (2020-05-06). "Disney's Newest Kids' Music Powerhouse". Billboard. Retrieved 2022-04-07.

    "For 2018, Buena Vista/Disney's Zombies soundtrack ranked No. 4 on Billboard's list of top-selling children's music titles"

  13. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (February 20, 2018). "Top 150 Friday Cable Originals: 2.16.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 20, 2018.
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  17. ^ "9th Annual CCE Awards". CCE. Archived from the original on 2020-10-26. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  18. ^ Xu, Linda (2018-11-27). "'Black Panther,' 'Boy Erased' and More Announced as 2019 Humanitas Prize Finalists". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2022-04-06. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
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