The Grease Sequel That Nearly Starred Britney Spears And Justin Timberlake

Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, the movie version of "Grease" came out in 1978. The film launched the acting career of British singer Olivia Newton-John and turned John Travolta into a superstar following his lead role in "Saturday Night Fever" the year before. "Grease" was an upgrade for Travolta, who years before actually played one of the T-Bird gang members, Doody, in a touring company for the musical, per Vanity Fair.

The original film still inspires new generations, including wild fan theories. Perhaps the craziest suggestion is that Sandy died in a drowning accident at the very beginning of the movie. In 2013, a user on Reddit theorized that just before her death, Sandy imagined an "increasingly outlandish" high school year together with Danny. Then there's the finale when Danny and Sandy literally drive off into the sky, which the fan said represented her final journey to heaven. It's the first moment in the entire movie where the storyline defies the laws of physics. "These things are bound to happen to something timeless like this. It's so fun," Travolta told USA Today about the theory. Truly timeless, the film celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2018 with a screening of the original at the luxurious Cannes Film Festival in France.

Knowing the tremendous popularity of "Grease" long after its release, development started in the new millennium on how to revive the franchise with two of the biggest stars in pop music, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

Capitalizing on the success Grease

"Grease" exits among other films like the live-action remakes of "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin" as the most successful movie musicals ever. When adjusting ticket sales for inflation, "Grease" is by far the highest grossing movie ever in the category, taking in $694.7 million in worldwide sales, Forbes estimated. It's no surprise then that producers tried to keep greasing the wheel of this successful franchise by creating a sequel. "Grease 2" came out in 1982 with none of the big name actors from the original. This time, Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield played the two leads. The film was a disaster in terms of expectations and grossed only an estimated $15 million worldwide.

In a 2000 press conference, NSYNC member Lance Bass explained that "Grease 3" was in the works. "We're going ahead and getting the script written. It's a go from the studios," Bass explained about the film, per ABC. The other NSYNC band members were cast in the film, too, as Joey Fatone explained, "I guess it'll be an ensemble." Although Timberlake wasn't officially named as the film's male lead, all signs pointed to him as the main guy with Britney Spears rumored to be the female lead. Not everyone from the original movie was thrilled about the idea. "They talked about 'Grease 3.' I have no idea what that would be like. Little kids think 'Grease' was made yesterday so why bother with a sequel," John Travolta told Black Film.

A movie musical with bad timing

Britney Spears made her film debut as the star of the 2002 film "Crossroads," via IMDb, with the screenplay written by a young Shonda Rhimes. While filming the project, Spears was dating Justin Timberlake. Both singers met as kid stars on the '90s Disney series, "The All-New Mickey Mouse Club" and began dating in 1999, Us Weekly recapped. Prior to "Crossroads," MTV was reportedly working on a musical version of "Alice in Wonderland" starring Spears, Timberlake, and NSYNC, according to Vice. Additionally, NSYNC appeared to be working on "Grease 3" but couldn't move forward due to a Screen Actors Guild strike, per Entertainment Weekly.

Contending with more than a poorly timed writer's strike, the third "Grease" film may have run into legal issues, too. It appeared those working on the movie couldn't or didn't want to obtain rights to use "Grease" characters. "I was told Paramount owns the 'Grease' name and they're not doing that ... it won't be 'Grease 3," John Travolta told Us Weekly, via NME. A representative for Paramount studios confirmed Travolta's words and put an end to fans hoping for a third movie. "We're not doing 'Grease 3.'" Yet, in 2003, Olivia Newton-John claimed that "Grease 3" was still in the works. "They're writing it, and we'll see what happens," she told Box Office Mojo. As for whether she would reprise her role as Sandy or make a cameo, Newton-John explained, "If the script looks good, I'll do it."