'Hannah Montana' is No. 1 (again!), will her upcoming Nicholas Sparks movie prove she has acting chops outside of the mouse house?

By Jennifer Armstrong
Updated April 17, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Sure, Hannah Montana: The Movie pulled an impressive $32 million in its first weekend. But should 16-year-old Miley Cyrus get the credit? Or does the gold star go to Hannah, her alter ego/billion-dollar Disney franchise? Along with last year’s surprise 3-D hit Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, ”this puts Hannah Montana in the same category as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” says Nancy Robinson, a teen-market expert at trend-tracking firm Iconoculture. ”It’s reliable entertainment for girls.” So what does that mean for Miley’s career once she leaves the state of Montana? That’s harder to call. ”Miley’s career has skyrocketed, but she is Hannah Montana,” says Cindy Osbrink, a longtime kid-talent agent who’s handled Dakota Fanning. ”She needs to go do something else so she can show she can [really] act.” Cyrus will try to do just that in the screen adaptation of the upcoming Nicholas Sparks novel The Last Song, which he’s writing with her in mind. (Out in September, the book involves a Manhattan teen displaced to North Carolina when her parents split.) And Sparks, for one, is convinced she has a long career ahead of her: ”Miley’s got this magical appearance on camera.”