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Why Grease 3 Never Happened

Picture it: It's 1959, it's the start of the new school year, and the T-Birds are circling the high school parking lot in their souped-up car while the Pink Ladies touch up their makeup. It sounds like a dream, right? Of course, we're talking about the ultra-successful 1978 movie GreaseRough-around-the-edges Danny Zuko (John Travolta) and sweet-as-apple-pie Sandy Olsson (Olivia Newton-John) were the couple fans swooned for, and they became an instant pop culture sensation.

Because the film was so popular, a sequel, Grease 2, was released in 1982. While Grease 2 certainly wasn't the best of the two movies, the love story of Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) and Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) still sufficed, and the sequel had its place in the franchise.

Now, some fans like a good revival, or maybe even a reboot, and when it comes to this classic pair of movies, it almost happened – but it's probably for the best that it didn't. Why exactly didn't Grease 3 ever happen? It really depends on who you ask, because there are quite a few reasons. Let's dive into the mystery that was once a dream and now a "Beauty School Dropout." (Sorry, it was a must.)

Grease 2 just didn't earn enough

Grease earned almost $400 million worldwide on a budget of just $6 million, so it would make sense that Paramount Pictures would want to make a sequel. There's no blame in this game, but unfortunately, Grease 2 was a swing and a miss. The sequel only pulled in a little over $15 million at the box office, while having twice the budget Grease had (via BBC Culture). Additionally, critics and audiences trashed the film, with its Rotten Tomatoes consensus noting that "it's a blatant retread of its far more entertaining predecessor."

So, what was the reasoning behind Grease 2 flopping? Well, it could be that most of the cast of the original Grease wasn't in the film, or that the new cast, led by then-newcomers Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer, just didn't have the star quality John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John did. Maybe fans of the first Grease movie wanted to see where Danny and Sandy were after high school, and if they were still chummy with their old pals Kenickie and Rizzo. Whatever the reasoning was behind viewers not liking Grease 2, it just wouldn't be sensible to make this franchise a trilogy ... right?

None of the Grease 3 scripts worked, and the original stars didn't want to be in it

Decades after Grease 2 hit theaters, fans who were hoping to see a third movie got some good news. In May 2003, it was announced that Paramount was developing Grease 3, despite how poorly Grease 2 performed financially and critically (via Entertainment Weekly). Didi Conn, who played Frenchy in Grease and did a disappearing act halfway through Grease 2, was confirmed to be executive-producing the movie, which was intended to take place in the '70s and center around "the children of the original Rydell High gang." Newton-John, Travolta, and the other main stars of the OG Grease were expected reprise their roles, this time appearing as parents.

Shortly thereafter, Newton-John said that she would indeed be willing to take part in Grease 3 if it was intriguing enough. "They're writing it, and we'll see what happens. If the script looks good, I'll do it. But I haven't seen the script, and it has to be cleverly done," she said at the time (via LADbible). 

That hope was crushed in 2006, when Conn revealed that both Travolta, the King of Disco Fever, and Newton-John likely wouldn't be starring in Grease 3 because none of the scripts weren't up to par, and when it comes down to it, they were just plain sad.

"We've been planning [Grease 3 for years, and I've had meetings with writers, but they just don't get the innocence of Grease. The scripts are not right — they're sad, and everybody's a loser," Conn said in interview with TV Guide (via Moviehole). "I don't think John is interested anymore, and he's convinced Olivia not to do it. The feelings of John, Olivia, and Stockard [Channing] are to let those characters be. I even read one script that had John's character dead. It was such a downer. That's not GreaseGrease is always an upper! 

Even though the iconic Grease duo still can rock a chic cardigan and a leather jacket, they both knew to quit while they were ahead.

Would a Grease 3 even work today?

Some sequels — such as Home Alone 2, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, or even The Matrix Revolutions – made the cut on what a good sequel is, but one of the major reasons behind their success is because the original cast was willing and able to come back. Unfortunately for the original cast of Grease, too much time has passed, and some major cast members have died. Even if a legitimate Grease 3 were made in the future — set long after the events of Grease and Grease 2 — it would feel hollow without some huge actors who are no longer with us.

Jeff Conaway, who played Danny's best friend Kenickie, died in 2011; to keep his famous role alive, it wouldn't be right to cast someone else. Annette Charles, who played Charlene "Cha Cha" DiGregorio, a past acquaintance of Danny's, died from cancer in 2011. Much like Conaway's character, her Grease performance was so spot-on, it'd be a shame to try finding another actress to take her place. Other stars and major contributors that have passed on are Edd Byrnes, who played Vince Fontaine; Dennis C. Stewart, who played Leo "Craterface" Balmudo, Cha Cha's boyfriend; Joan Blondell, also known as Vi, the warmhearted waitress; Allan Carr, producer of Grease; and last but definitely not least, Warren Casey, the creator of the story around rock 'n' roll, high school life, and teenage heartbreak.

More Grease is on the way

All this considered, there is actually more Grease content in the works. First, there's a third Grease movie in development — but it isn't Grease 3. It's a prequel film entitled Summer Loving, set right before the beginning of the original Grease film as it tells the story of how Danny and Sandy met that fateful summer. 

Additionally, creator, writer, and executive producer Annabel Oakes has underway a Grease series — yet another prequel. Originally called Grease: Rydell High and intended to be an HBO Max streaming exclusive, the show got a facelift in the form of a new title, Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies, and a new platform, Paramount+. As detailed by VarietyGrease: Rise of the Pink Ladies will turn back the clock and explore what went on before the musical movie everyone's loved for decades. The new series is set to reveal how the Pink Ladies came to be, and "how the reverence, fear, and moral panic they sparked changed Rydell High forever."

Whether or not Summer Loving and Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies will be hits remains a mystery for now, but at the very least, let's hope they're the ones that fans want.