Few - if anyone - predicted that director Steven Sodbergh's 2012 film Magic Mike, being a dramedy loosely inspired by star Channing Tatum's real-life experience working as a male stripper, would be successful enough at the box office to birth a franchise. That's what happened, though, as a Broadway musical adaptation of the movie is now in development, along with a cinematic sequel that's rumored to be (appropriately enough) titled Magic Mike XXL. (We'll simply refer to it as Magic Mike 2, for now.)
The original plan was for Magic Mike 2 to be a roadtrip movie that's heavier on the broad comedy than its predecessor; in a recent interview with MTV, Tatum confirmed that is still the approach on the sequel. He and Magic Mike screenwriter Reid Carolin have been hard at work on the script for the followup these past couple months, but it was only in recent weeks that we learned the sequel will be directed by Gregory Jacobs - Soderbergh's longtime assistant director, who collaborated with the filmmaker on some 20 different movies over 15 years (assuming you count Che: Part 1 and Part 2 as separate films).
Cut to the present and Warner Bros. has officially scheduled Magic Mike 2 for a theatrical release in the U.S., beginning on July 3rd, 2015. The Tatum vehicle joins a couple of other comedy sequels - Pitch Perfect 2 and Ted 2 - in the Summer 2015 lineup, where these films will serve as counter-programming to the effects-heavy genre blockbusters of the season (with the Ted and Magic Mike followups skewing more towards the crowd hungry for adults-only laughs). Magic Mike 2 will face-off directly against the Terminator franchise reboot Terminator: Genesis (which arrives two days earlier) during its Fourth of July opening weekend.
During the aforementioned MTV interview, Tatum also confirmed the plan is to bring back the main cast of the first Magic Mike installment, expressing his confidence that this will happen while also admitting "Obviously no one’s deals are done, which is always kind of scary.” It might be tricky to get newly-minted Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey back to reprise his scene-stealing turn as Dallas from the first movie, though costars Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, Kevin Nash, and Cody Horn should be easier to secure for the sequel.
In addition, Tatum shed more light on what he and Carolin have in mind story-wise for Magic Mike 2:
“This one will be a road trip movie. Without giving a lot away, we don’t wanna make it a really serious, slice-of-life movie. We want to have reality in it, but we don’t want to make it some dark drama. There was some darkness in the last one that I think surprised people and shocked people. This one, we want there to be a lot of conflict and a lot of struggle, but we also want there to be a s**t-ton of fun. A s**t-ton of just ridiculous stuff that you would never see in a movie.”
Admittedly, this is where things start to get shakier, as far as how promising this proposed version of Magic Mike 2 sounds. The thing that impresses many film buffs (and film critics alike) about Soderbergh's original film is how it uses a workplace dramedy format - revolving around a group of hunky male strippers - as a springboard to touch upon timely concerns about weak economic conditions and the reality of career aspirations, among other things. Those who enjoy the first Magic Mike for those reasons might not be so interested in what Tatum's selling this time.
... On the other hand, those who found Magic Mike to be more pretentious than insightful might prefer a sequel that embraces a more happy-go-lucky existential approach to its subject matter, especially as a source of entertainment during the Fourth of July holiday. Be sure and let us know in the comments where you stand on this issue (assuming the Magic Mike franchise is your cup of tea, naturally).
Magic Mike 2 opens in U.S. theaters on July 3rd, 2015.