Salma Hayek Image Credit: AP

Hollywood star Salma Hayek is joining the cast of Channing Tatum’s new ‘Magic Mike’ sequel, replacing original female lead Thandiwe Newton.

“Thandiwe Newton has made the difficult decision to step away from the production of Warner Bros. Pictures’ ‘Magic Mike’s Last Dance’ to deal with family matters,” a spokesperson for the studio told ‘Variety’.

English actress Thandiwe Newton arrives for the Warner Bros premiere of
Thandiwe Netwon Image Credit: AFP

The film is being made exclusively for HBO Max. Reid Carolin, who wrote the first two movies, is returning as screenwriter. The film’s original director Steven Soderbergh is back at the helm. The third installment is expected to wrap a bow on the trilogy.

Production just began in the UK ‘Magic Mike XXL’ director Gregory Jacobs is producing with Carolin, Nick Wechsler and Peter Kiernan.

In his February cover interview with ‘Variety’, Tatum and Carolin hinted that the lead female role would be crucial to the sequel’s plot.

“It’s really about a woman stuck at a horrible strip show like a Chippendales and then realising, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’” Carolin said at the time.

“And then Magic Mike comes down from the ceiling. She gets to go down the rabbit hole and asks: What do I really want?”

Tatum added that the character is “really strong, almost stronger than Mike... we’ve never done a traditional love story, and this isn’t a traditional love story.”

The first two ‘Magic Mike’ films grossed nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office, and have spawned a live stage show franchise playing cities including London, Las Vegas, Berlin and Australia.