In this final part, Steven Soderbergh gives Channing Tatum all the leeway he wants to explore his talent as a dancer… and it’s not Salma Hayek who’s going to be complaining.
With his usual sense of humor, Channing Tatum dubbed this latest Magic Mike the “Superbowl of Stripping.” Indeed, this time, at Max’s (Salma Hayek) suggestion, his character Michael Lane is crossing the Atlantic to put on a show in London.
“A third Magic Mike wasn’t really planned,” Steven Soderbergh told Total Film. We worked on a theatrical version — a more traditional version for Broadway — for about two years while writers Chan and Reid and the choreographers worked on a tour of a “live” version of the show, but I wasn’t unprepared for that Show I saw in London 18 months later. And I liked it so much that I picked up the phone and suggested we take the show off Broadway and make a film about Mike coming up with the idea for the show.”
Without denying Magic Mike’s origins — exploring Channing Tatum’s past as a dancer — as the actor points out in the pages of Vanity Fair, this latter part is more honest and explains the involvement of Max.
“Actually, I think the first two films are weird. They are films about men for a female audience, but none have a strong female character. So it was like we were fooling people on some level. Like we cheated,” he said.
As Steven Soderbergh pointed out in the pages of Empire monthly, “The first film was a fairly simple rendition of a set of characters that exist in that medium and have remained unchanged since its creation. The second film ventured into exploring what women look for when they go out to explore their fantasies and sexuality. How do you maintain that aura of mystery in an environment where things like consent and permissions are paramount?”
“The third film really dives into these themes much more fully, in part because it’s the first time we’ve seen Mike in a relationship. So it allows for a dynamic and a range of discussions that we couldn’t have had before this feature film.
Because, as he has pointed out at length, Magic Mike: Last Dance – under the guise of pure entertainment – explores topics that are rarely covered. “First, what is desire? What is hot? what is fantasy What role does imagination play in a person’s life? It was a very good opportunity to talk about sexuality in a romantic relationship, a topic that the first two films are gradually moving towards.
“I’ve always presented ‘Last Dance’ as ‘two in one.’ I’ve always insisted that we have to do some kind of forensic study of how to put on a dance performance, and then we really have to look at the other themes of the previous films.”
Magic Mike: Last Dance was originally intended to be released through HBO Max, an overly restrictive idea that was scrapped. As the filmmaker explained to Variety, Magic Mike is becoming a franchise. Besides touring shows, “there are other things to do once you realize how vast the Magic Mike universe is. We can tell many stories with the same philosophy, approaching the same themes, always with dance, but not mentioning Mike Lane.
Obviously the dance … or rather the dances plays a prominent role. “I wanted professional dancers from all over the world, Russian ballet dancers, etc. I wanted to create a whole new genre,” said Channing Tatum, also a producer on the film.
Obviously, what is shown on the screen has nothing to do with reality anymore. “No real life show where I got naked is as good as the movie. We’re breaking the rules and breaking reality,” he pointed out on the pages of People magazine, before adding that it has to be admitted that male dancer shows aren’t great.
Revealed to Empire by Steven Soderbergh, the fact that the film will feature a 30-minute dance number is an event in itself. “We wanted to explode dance in a big way. Right at the beginning there is a dance number with Channing and Salma. And then the last 30 minutes of the film is just one giant dance sequence.”
All dance scenes required rigorous preparation. “The staging schedule for these sequences was very, very tight. I watched a lot of musicals while filming just to boost my memory and get ideas. But usually I had really, really little time for some of those scenes, and I really had to go with my instincts and treat them almost like a sport. But I had all the support I needed and all these amazing dancers, so it wasn’t stressful, it just went super fast,” the filmmaker explained.
“I love the energy and momentum that comes from knowing you have a certain amount of time to achieve something. You just can’t think the same way every day. You have to think outside the box, be creative and efficient, recognizing that you only have three hours from start to finish to film a complete scene. It puts everyone on high alert and I like that part.”
“Looking back, I don’t think I wished we had had a lot more time to do this or that. We left everything in the film,” he added.
Magic Mike: Last Dance will thrill cinema-goers starting February 10th.