Magicians turned righteous criminals on a heist thriller Now You See Me earned an overall lukewarm critical reception in 2013, but its $352 million worldwide take (on a $75 million budget) was more than enough to convince Lionsgate that it’s viable franchise material. Thus, a sequel was put into production around the end of 2014 (for a June 2016 release), and Now You See Me 3 is already being planned.
Now You See Me 2 – a.k.a. Now You See Me: The Second Act – reunites three of the Four Horsemen from the first movie (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco), while Masters of Sex star Lizzy Caplan will play a new character, expected to fill the hole left by Isla Fisher (who won’t appear in the sequel). Meanwhile, Daniel Radcliffe is playing Walter Tressler, the son of Michael Caine’s character from the first movie – and odds are, he’ll be facing off with the Four Horsemen as they set out to execute “their most dangerous heist yet.”
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer revealed the Now You See Me franchise update during the company’s most recent quarterly conference call with its analysts, where he said (hat tip to Variety) that “early planning” for Now You See Me 3 has already started. Variety‘s report also states that most of the series’ recurring main cast should return in the third Now You See Me installment, along with the rest of the series’ main ensemble – including, Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman, in addition to the aforementioned names.
There’s still been no mention of Mélanie Laurent returning for any future Now You See Me films, which is unfortunate since her relationship with Ruffalo was (arguably) one of the highlights of the first movie. Upcoming installments will, presumably, further explore the history behind the secret magician society known as “The Eye”, while also detailing the ongoing adventures of the Four Horsemen. That is to say: it’s odd that Laurent isn’t going to continue being part of that story, seeing as her character from the first movie (Interpol agent Alma Dray) had already learned all about “The Eye” well before she learned the truth about Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) and his ties to the organization.
Now You See Me 2 was scripted by Ed Solomon (co-writer on Now You See Me) and Pete Chiarelli (The Proposal), and replaced Now You See Me helmsman Louis Leterrier – who had to pass because of his commitment to the Sacha Baron Cohen action/comedy Grimsby – with Justin Bieber: Never Say Never and G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon Chu. The sequel, more than its predecessor, is shaping up to be something of a globe-trotting caper, as shooting took place in such locations ranging from London to China.
General feelings towards Now You See Me certainly vary (as mentioned before); some found the film to be an entertaining work of cinematic trickery (like I did), while others felt it mostly amounted to cheap parlor tricks (read: style without enough substance). Time will tell if the followup proves less divisive among critics – or if this is one of those sequels that feels like “product” above all else – but Lionsgate is clearly expecting The Second Act to make enough box office bank to justify producing at least one more (a final?) act in this magic show.
Now You See Me 2/Now You See Me: The Second Act opens in U.S. theaters on June 10th, 2016. We’ll keep you posted on Now You See Me 3‘s status.