How the 'Princess Switch' Franchise 'Helped Breathe New Life into the Christmas Romcom'

The latest movie to be introduced to the Netflix Christmas cinematic universe has just dropped.

The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star landed on the streaming platform on November 18 and sees Vanessa Hudgens reprise all three of her roles as Margaret, Stacey and Fiona.

Unlike the previous two in the trilogy which focused on Margaret and Stacey, this movie sees Fiona become the lead, as the three try to solve a mystery surrounding a royal heist.

"I love all three Princess Switch movies! I had a blast directing them all, but I think The Princess Switch 3 is my favorite," the trilogy's director, Mike Rohl told Newsweek.

"We knew we wanted to elevate the franchise and take it in an unexpected direction. Making Fiona the lead and the love interest and adding a heist to the third instalment allowed us to do just that."

In the franchise's second instalment, Fiona arrived on the scene as the movie's villain.

The socialite cousin of Margaret, Lady Fiona, hatches a plan to steal the throne of Montenaro from her relative.

Vanessa Hudgens in The Princess Switch 3
Vanessa Hudgens as Fiona in "The Princess Switch 3." This movie sees Fiona become the lead character. Netflix

Having previously been exposed for her criminal deeds, Fiona is called upon for help in this film when a priceless treasure is stolen from a Christmas party hosted by Stacey and Margaret.

Trying to win audiences over to root for Fiona after her scheming ways in the previous move was not a task Rohl took lightly.

"Taking care of how we revealed Fiona's past was an important consideration," he explained.

"I love Fiona, and I care what happens to her. Empathy is usually discovered whenever you gain insight and understanding into the circumstances contributing to a person's life choices.

"When you see them overcome challenges and transform, you feel happy for them. This is what we wanted the audience to feel for Fiona."

These elements in the movie, he said, are what make the third film in the trilogy "stand out uniquely."

Rohl's previous work is very different to that of The Princess Switch franchise, having worked on shows including Shadowhunters, Smallville and Supernatural, but he loves the trilogy.

"Not too many times in a career or in life, for that matter, do you find yourself part of something so fun and uplifting as the Princess Switch franchise.

"Yes, the work is hard, and the expectations are enormous. However, our group stuck together enthusiastically through thick and thin and delivered something that we are all very proud of.

"This movie allowed me to dig deep into my film toolbox and mix my comic background as a professional improviser with the techniques and lessons learned while on those past productions."

His love for the movies is infectious and likely to be felt by audiences who've enjoyed the other instalments in the trilogy.

As for love in the movie, there is still romance at the core of The Princess Switch 3.

Rohl said: "The most significant artistic challenge was making the movie fun and exciting but still faithful to the romantic 'red thread.'

"People love to experience the blooming of true love right alongside the characters. When that premise is framed inside an epic story world beautifully gilded with the magic and emotion of Christmas, it feels relatable, cozy and inspirational."

While we don't know if Netflix's interconnected Christmas universe will continue to expand in the future, holiday-centered romcoms are here to stay.

Vanessa Hudgens in The Princess Switch 3
Vanessa Hudgens as Stacey in "The Princess Switch 3." She plays all three lead characters. Netflix

The optimism baked into the plots are part of what makes the genre so appealing to audiences, Rohl said.

"I think The Princess Switch franchise has helped breathe new life into the Christmas romcom genre because it has elevated and expanded the paradigm.

"As it evolved, our goal for the franchise was to create fun and exciting new pathways for our characters to explore. We've managed to do this by blending romance, comedy, Christmas and action together in a fun, unique way and by topping off our latest installment with an unexpected heist led by the royals themselves.

"I think these kinds of movies will be around for a long time to come."

He continued: "There is an evolving opportunity to expand and connect storytellers and audiences through technology. Interactive branching narratives are becoming more and more popular.

"The future is bright for these kinds of stories."

The Princess Switch 3: Romancing The Star is available to stream on Netflix now.

Vanessa Hudgens in The Princess Switch 3
Vanessa Hudgens as Margaret in "The Princess Switch 3." The movie's director says "the future is bright" for interconnected stories like this. Netflix