Magic Mike's Last Dance Was Inspired By The West End Show (And Killed The Broadway Show)

Back in May 2019, Boston-based fans of bare torsos and body rolls were delivered a blow when the news broke that "Magic Mike The Musical" had canceled its planned pre-Broadway engagement at Boston's Emerson Colonial Theatre. Per Deadline, the producers (among them, Channing Tatum and Steven Soderbergh) said that "they don't feel the musical is ready for production" — unsurprising, given that several members of the creative team had exited a few weeks earlier.

The cancelation, in hindsight, meant that the producers dodged a pandemic-shaped bullet. With the Boston show planned to run until January 2020, "Magic Mike The Musical" would have been scheduled to open on Broadway at around the same time that a stay-at-home order was issued in New York City amid rapidly rising COVID-19 cases. Yet Soderbergh's decision to shelve the Broadway musical and instead direct a third "Magic Mike" movie, the upcoming "Magic Mike's Last Dance," wasn't the result of a psychic premonition. He had found inspiration on the West End.

Speaking to Total Film, Soderbergh recalled:

"A third 'Magic Mike' movie was kind of unexpected. We were a couple of years into working on a stage version of the show — a more traditional Broadway version — and that was all going on while Chan and Reid [Carolin, screenwriter] and the choreographic team were also developing the live show. I'd seen some very early schematic workshops of the live show, and thought it was intriguing. But I really wasn't prepared, 18 months later, for what I saw in London, which was the finished version. And I was so captivated by it that I got on the phone, and said, 'I think we should abandon the Broadway idea, and I would like to make a movie that is a fictionalized version of how Mike comes up with the idea for the live show.'"

Magic Mike Live

Back in 2016, Channing Tatum — who conceived and directed "Magic Mike Live" — said that there were no plans to make "Magic Mike 3" because the live show basically already was "Magic Mike 3." 

Though marketed (very successfully) as girls-night-out movies, "Magic Mike" and "Magic Mike XXL" were praised in reviews for their surprising emotional depth. Tatum himself had worked as a stripper in Tampa, Florida, when he was 18-19, and he was inspired to collaborate with "Magic Mike" director Steven Soderbergh and producer/screenwriter Reid Carolin on a movie about male strippers. "It was the atmosphere and energy of it I wanted to capture," Tatum said. "And that feeling of being at a time in your life when you're trying things out, and up for anything." 

The first movie was focused primarily on Mike himself, but "Magic Mike XXL" (directed by Gregory Jacobs, with Soderbergh serving as the cinematographer and editor) expanded its scope to his stripper crew, the Kings of Tampa, as they take a road trip that's part male bonding, part journey of self-discovery. As Tatum explained on talk show The Project:

"The two movies are about guys. They were kind of made for women a bit, but they were sort of a feathered fish. We didn't want to make a third film, we wanted to make this, and this is actually for women — made by a bunch of men, but with the guidance of women [laughs]."

Just as the first "Magic Mike" movie was a fictionalized take on Tatum's experience of stripper life, "Magic Mike's Last Dance" is a fictional take on Tatum conceiving and directing the live show, which is currently running at the London Hippodrome and has another show in Las Vegas.

A woman's touch

To represent the women's perspective that Channing Tatum wanted to bring to the live show, "Magic Mike's Last Dance" pairs Mike with Salma Hayek Pinault's character, who "travels in a very rarefied, sophisticated space," according to Total Film's interview with Steven Soderbergh. Though Mike has had love interests in the previous movies, this is the first time he's been in an actual relationship. "That was exciting to us," said Soderbergh. "Where is Mike at now? He's turned 40. Things haven't really happened for him. What is a relationship to him? What does love mean to him? We have a lot of new territory here that we can explore."

Whereas the Broadway version of "Magic Mike" had apparently gotten stuck in a creative mire, "Magic Mike's Last Dance" was right in Soderbergh's comfort zone. "It's another in a series of what I call 'process films,' where, like an 'Ocean's' movie, it's an exploded view of somebody trying to solve a problem," the director told Total Film. "In this case, it was a really fun mash-up of things that I like — one of them being: showing people solving problems, the other being: people dancing."

"Magic Mike XXL" released in 2015, and the years since then have brought some decidedly dark times. Whether on the stage or on the screen, sexy dancing could be just the break we all need right now. "Magic Mike's Last Dance" is heading to theaters on February 10, 2023.