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Channing Tatum has announced, and Warner Bros. has confirmed, that we’re getting a third Magic Mike movie. Magic Mike’s Last Dance, penned by Reid Caroline and directed by Stephen Soderbergh (who helmed the first Magic Mike but not the sequel Magic Mike XXL), will debut sometime not in theaters but on HBO Max. That’s surprising, but not a jaw-dropper.
Magic Mike has spawned a popular touring stage show starting in 2017, with North American dates beginning in Nashville on April 6, 2022. Those shows inspired an HBO Max reality show competition Finding Magic Mike, debuting December 16, 2021, about ten men who have “lost their magic” and somehow regain their mojo via learning dance routines, so there is obviously corporate synergy in play.
Magic Mike, usually “exhibit A” when I discuss Warner Bros.’ abilities to turn unconventional event films into theatrical blockbusters, opened with $39 million in June of 2012 and legged out to $113 million domestic and $168 million worldwide on a $7 million budget. Magic Mike XXL (directed by Gregory Jacobs) earned $66 million domestic and $118 million worldwide in summer 2015. That was still eight times its $14.5 million budget and a decent 70% retention.
That said, audiences still showed up for regular movies in summer 2015. I’d love to argue that Magic Mike’s Last Dance could still justify a $15 million budget and full-on theatrical marketing campaign for a possible over/under $100 million global finish, but, well, have you seen King Richard in theaters yet? Warner Bros. has been putting out a slew of old-school studio programmers since late 2019 to mostly empty auditoriums. You know this song because I’ve been singing it for two years.
If you don’t see films like Cry Macho, The Way Back, The Good Liar and In the Heights in theaters, at some point Warner Bros. can’t be blamed for shifting some of that to HBO Max, where at least they can look/feel like A-level streaming titles with the mere presumption of success. Moreover, since brand awareness is now as important in the streaming wars as in theaters (so much for “prestige television”), it also means that even seemingly terrible ideas (like, say, a Mel Gibson-directed Lethal Weapon 5 that may or may not actually happen) are rendered viable due to the differing metrics of streaming-era success.
This news means either A) lots of subscribers watched Soderbergh’s terrific No Sudden Move earlier this year or B) nobody watched No Sudden Move, and this is the “one for us” payback. We don’t have an airdate for this one, but (depending on how far along they are in the development process) I’d expect a premiere in late 2022 or early 2023. So, what say you? Will Magic Mike’s Last Dance actually be the epic finale of the Magic Mike saga? Will it follow the tried-and-true “hero loses everything that makes him special and has to reaffirm the power within” threequel formula? We’ll find out in a year or two.