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The Greatest Showman 2 release date, cast, and plot

The musical biopic The Greatest Showman was one of the biggest surprises of 2017. Starring Hugh Jackman as the legendary P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, the flick offered a high-energy, enthralling (if not always totally historically accurate) account of a fascinating life, and its selection of amazing songs — courtesy of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the acclaimed songwriters who took home an Oscar for their work on La La Land — brought its musical numbers to vibrant life.

It also turned out that Jackman has a really nice set of pipes, and he threw himself into the role in admirable fashion, helped along by a strong supporting cast that included Zac Efron (Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile), Michelle Williams (Venom), Rebecca Ferguson (Men in Black International), and Zendaya (Spider-Man: Far From Home). Released a couple of weeks before Christmas, the $84 million dollar picture was considered something of a gamble — but it charmed the heck out of audiences, and cleaned up at the international box office to the tune of $435 million dollars, making it the third-highest grossing musical in history.

Even though the flick told a neatly self-contained story, that kind of performance will cause studio executives to start throwing around the "S" word early and often — and sure enough, Jackman confirmed this past April that The Greatest Showman 2 has entered the early stages of production. Will he and the rest of that stellar cast be returning? Will Pasek and Paul saddle up to supply more of those incredible tunes? And, when can we expect the flick to hit theaters? Here's everything we know so far.

Who will be in the cast of The Greatest Showman 2?

It may not surprise you to know that, since The Greatest Showman 2 is just starting to get off the ground, we don't have a heck of a lot solid details yet. It would seem like a no-brainer to assume that Jackman will be back, but this isn't necessarily the case; it's just possible that the sequel could focus on other characters from the first film, such as Efron's Phillip Carlyle (a fictional character created for the film) and Ferguson's Jenny Lind, the famed Swedish opera singer whose stateside fortunes were bolstered by Barnum's involvement in her career.

Speaking with NME, Jackman raised this possibility himself, saying that while he knows that the first film's director Michael Gracey and screenwriters Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon are "working on a treatment" for the sequel, he doesn't know for sure whether he'll be invited back. "I don't know, I don't know," Jackman said when asked if he'd be reprising his role. "I would like to be part of it for sure, [but] I don't know if it would be centered on my character."

For the time being, we'll just have to wait to see how much of The Greatest Showman's cast jump back on board for the second chapter — and of course, it'll largely depend on where the filmmakers decide to take the story.

What will The Greatest Showman 2 be about?

The Greatest Showman was a film that took a great many liberties with its historical subject matter in the interest of telling an awesome story. While some critics accused the film in engaging in revisionist history — Barnum was a pretty complicated man, and some of his attitudes towards his performers and his public were very much of their time — we submit that a Hollywood musical biopic should not necessarily be expected to be a stickler for historical accuracy. The picture was simply a fun time at the movies, and the fact that it plays fast and loose with its subject matter could very well end up working out in the sequel's favor.

This is because, to an extent, The Greatest Showman 2 could take any narrative direction the filmmakers desire. Like Jackman alluded to, its focus could be on secondary characters or even new ones not featured in the first film; rather than putting the spotlight squarely on Barnum, the movie could instead examine the people he influenced and the lives he touched, whether real or fictional. 

Failing that, The Greatest Showman 2 could take a look at Barnum's later years, during which he leveraged his well-documented experience as a hoaxster in order to debunk fraudulent "entertainers" such as mediums and spiritualists, whom he felt took undue advantage of the public by exploiting their desire to communicate with lost loved ones. (He also served two terms in the Connecticut legislature, but somehow, the idea of Jackman belting out a lively tune in support of a budget bill's passage doesn't seem like it would make for scintillating cinema.)

There are a lot of different narrative avenues that The Greatest Showman 2 could take, but for now, we'll have to wait until the film is a little further down the road in its development before we have an idea as to what we can expect from its story.

Does The Greatest Showman 2 have a release date?

Of course, since the project is just barely beyond the "twinkle in the filmmakers' eyes" stage, we don't have anything resembling a release date yet. But, even though the sequel is likely to be a high priority for studio 20th Century Fox (and its new parent company, Disney) given the stellar performance of the first film, it's likely that The Greatest Showman 2 will take a bit longer to make it to the screen than your average sequel.

We only advance this opinion because the original film took a whopping seven years from conception to completion. This is largely because it was originally intended to be more of a straight biopic, and its course was corrected in pre-production due to an offhand remark from Gracey. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly in advance of The Greatest Showman's release, the director cheekily reflected on the change in direction. "I said, 'If you're going to call it The Greatest Showman, you should play to your strengths and we should make it a musical,'" he said. "That ridiculous remark cost me seven years of my life."

While the sequel will obviously be conceived as a musical from the beginning, Jackman has also gone out of his way to point out that these things can sometimes take awhile to come together. "The... thing is, [The Greatest Showman] did take eight years to get it made and that wasn't all eight years of convincing people," the star said during his chat with NME. "It takes a long time to write stuff."

Considering that The Greatest Showman 2 is still in the very early stages and that it's likely to eventually be pegged for a holiday release of the sort which was a pretty major factor in the the first film's success, we're thinking that we're not likely to see the sequel come down the pike until 2021 at the earliest. We'll have a better idea of a time frame for the movie's release once production ramps up in earnest.

Is there a trailer for The Greatest Showman 2?

It probably won't shock you to learn that there is no trailer for The Greatest Showman 2 at this time, and that there isn't likely to be one for a year or more. But the very fact that a sequel is in the works has got to be heartening for fans of the first picture, not to mention those who picked up a copy of the soundtrack album, which sold north of 5 million copies on its way to becoming the best-selling album of 2018.

It seems certain that Pasek and Paul will be back on board to contribute a new round of smashing tunes to the sequel, and when we do eventually get a trailer for The Greatest Showman 2, we can only hope that it'll come complete with a sneak preview of the song which will be destined to burn up the charts for a year or more after the flick's release. It wouldn't surprise us if we were to get a teaser of some sort which could run in front of the movies that'll be released during the 2020 holiday season, but this is pure speculation. Presently, all that we can do is wait to see how quickly The Greatest Showman 2 comes together — but rest assured, we'll be all over any relevant details to be reported, and we'll keep you up to speed.