The film was released theatrically on June 11, 1982 and grossed over $15 million against a production budget of $11 million.
It is 1961, two years after the original Grease. The first day of school has arrived and the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies dance and sing as they enter the high school ("Back to School Again"). The Pink Ladies are now led by Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer), who feels she has "outgrown" her relationship with her ex-boyfriend Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed), the arrogant and rather immature new leader of the T-Birds.
A new arrival comes in the form of clean-cut English student Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) (a cousin of Sandy Olsson from the previous film). He is welcomed and introduced to the school atmosphere by Frenchy (Didi Conn), who was asked by Sandy to help show Michael around. Frenchy reveals she has returned to Rydell to get her high school diploma so she can start her own cosmetics company. Michael eventually meets Stephanie and quickly becomes smitten with her. At the local bowling alley, a game ("Score Tonight") turns sour due to the animosity between Johnny and Stephanie. Stephanie retaliates by kissing the next man who walks in the door, who happens to be Michael. Bemused by this unexpected kiss, Michael asks her out, but he learns that she has a very specific vision of her ideal man ("Cool Rider"). As he realizes that he will only win her affection if he turns himself into a cool rider, Michael accepts payment from the T-Birds to write term papers for them; he uses the cash to buy a motorcycle.
Following an unusual biology lesson ("Reproduction") given by Mr. Stuart (Tab Hunter), a substitute teacher, a gang of rival motorcyclists called the Cycle Lords (most of whom are members of the defunct Scorpions) led by Leo Balmudo (Dennis C. Stewart) surprise the T-Birds at the bowling alley. Before the fight starts, a lone mysterious (unnamed) biker appears (who is Michael in disguise), defeats the enemy gang and disappears into the night ("Who's That Guy?"). Stephanie is fascinated with the stranger. Meanwhile, Louis (Peter Frechette), one of the T-Birds, attempts to trick his sweetheart Sharon (Maureen Teefy), one of the Pink Ladies and Stephanie's friends into losing her virginity to him by taking her to a fallout shelter and faking a nuclear attack ("Let's Do It for Our Country").
The next evening while working at a gas station/garage, Stephanie is surprised again by the Cool Rider, and they enjoy a romantic twilight motorcycle ride. Just as Michael is about to reveal his identity, they are interrupted by the arrival of the T-Birds and Pink Ladies. Before Michael leaves, he tells Stephanie that he will see her at the school talent show, in which the Pink Ladies and T-Birds are performing. Johnny, enraged by Stephanie's new romance, threatens to fight the Cool Rider if he sees him with her again. The Pink Ladies walk away haughtily, but this has little effect on the T-Birds' self-confidence ("Prowlin'").
At school, Stephanie's poor grades in English lead her to accept Michael's offer of help. Johnny, upon seeing them together in a discussion, demands that Stephanie quit the Pink Ladies to preserve his honor ("rep", reputation). Although still enamored with the Cool Rider, interactions with Michael reveal that she has become romantically interested in him as well. Michael ponders over his continuing charade he puts on for Stephanie ("Charades").
At the talent show, Stephanie and the Cool Rider meet but are ambushed by the T-Birds who pursue Michael on their respective motorcycles, with Stephanie and the Pink Ladies following in a car. They chase him to a construction site which conceals a deadly drop, and the biker's absence suggests that he has perished below, leaving Stephanie heartbroken and inconsolable. Johnny and his T-Birds remove the competing Preptones preppie boys by tying them to a shower pole in the boys' locker room and drenching them. During the Pink Ladies' performance in the talent show ("Girl for All Seasons"), Stephanie enters a dreamlike fantasy world where she is reunited with her mystery biker ("(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time"). She is named winner of the contest and crowned the queen of the upcoming graduation luau, with Johnny hailed as king for his performance of "Prowlin'" with his fellow T-Birds.
The school year ends with the luau ("Rock-a-Hula Luau"), during which the Cycle Lords appear and begin to destroy the celebration. However, the Cool Rider reappears. After he defeats the Cycle Lords again, he reveals himself to be Michael. Initially shocked, Johnny gives him a T-Birds jacket, officially welcoming him into the gang, and Stephanie accepts that she can now be with him. As a reward, Michael and Stephanie kiss for their new love for each other. All the couples pair off happily at the seniors' graduation as the graduating class sings ("We'll Be Together"). The credits start rolling in yearbook-style, as in the original film.Maxwell Caulfield as Michael Carrington, an English exchange student and Sandy's cousin. Caulfield had already made his Broadway debut with roles in The Elephant Man and Entertaining Mr. Sloane. Having seen his performances, Allan Carr offered Caulfield the role of Michael over thousands of applicants. Unlike co-star Pfeiffer, Caulfield's career following Grease 2 was damaged by the film's failure. He has been quoted as saying: "Before Grease 2 came out, I was being hailed as the next Richard Gere or John Travolta. However, when Grease 2 flopped, nobody would touch me. It felt like a bucket of cold water had been thrown in my face. It took me 10 years to get over Grease 2."Michelle Pfeiffer as Stephanie Zinone, the leader of the Pink Ladies. With only a few television roles and small film appearances, the 23-year-old Pfeiffer was an unknown actress when she attended the casting call audition for the role of Stephanie. Other better-known actresses up for the part included Lisa Hartman, Kristy McNichol, Andrea McArdle, and singer Pat Benatar. Pfeiffer was a wild card choice, but according to Birch, she won the part because she "has a quirky quality you don't expect." Despite the disappointing reception of the film, Pfeiffer's meteoric rise to the Hollywood A-list began the following year when she played Elvira Hancock in Scarface.Didi Conn as FrenchyEve Arden as Principal Greta McGeeSid Caesar as Coach CalhounDody Goodman as Vice Principal Blanche HodelEddie Deezen as Eugene FelsnickDennis C. Stewart as Leo Balmudo (Craterface), leader of the Cycle Lords (appeared as the gang leader of the Scorpions in the previous film)Dick Patterson as Mr. Spears (appeared as Mr. Rudie in the previous film)Tab Hunter as Mr. StuartConnie Stevens as Miss Yvette MasonJean and Liz Sagal as Noreen and DoreenMatt Lattanzi as BradLucinda Dickey as Girl GreaserVernon Scott as Henry DickeyTom Willett as Bowling Alley Manager (uncredited)
Grease co-producer Allan Carr had a deal with Paramount Pictures to be paid $5 million to produce a sequel, with production beginning within three years of the original film. Carr decided to hire Patricia Birch as director for the sequel, as she had previously served as the choreographer for the stage and film versions of Grease. Birch was initially hesitant to accept after learning that neither composers Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey nor John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John would be involved in film. The total budget for the production was $11.2 million, almost double the budget of the original.
Grease 2 was intended to be the second film (and first sequel) in a proposed Grease franchise of four films and a television series. (The third and fourth films were to take place in the sixties and during the counterculture era.) However, the projects were scrapped due to the underwhelming box office performance of Grease 2. Maxwell Caulfield was unhappy with the film's "drab" title, and unsuccessfully lobbied to change it to Son of Grease.
Birch proposed an idea to feature Travolta and Newton-John reprising their characters as a now married couple running a gas station near the end of the film, which did not come to fruition. Paramount tried to get Jeff Conaway and Stockard Channing from the first film to do cameos but this did not happen.
Timothy Hutton was announced as a male star, but Maxwell Caulfield was signed after impressing producers on Broadway in Entertaining Mister Sloane.
Pfeiffer had only made a few films before:
That was really weird for me. I'd been taking singing lessons and I had taken dance, because I loved to dance, but I had never considered myself a professional at all. I went on this audition as a fluke, and somehow, through the process of going back and dancing, and then going back and singing, I ended up getting the part. I went crazy with that movie. I came to New York and the paparazzi were waiting at the hotel. I know the producers put them up to it. I am basically very private, and I'm really nervous about doing publicity. Every time I set up an interview, I say, "That's it, this is my last one. I'll do this because I committed to doing it, but I'm never doing another one." It was insane.
Lorna Luft was the last star cast. The part played by Connie Stevens was originally meant for Annette Funicello but she was unable to appear as she was filming a peanut butter advertisement that week.
Adrian Zmed had previously played the role of Danny Zuko in the stage version of Grease, a role he would later reprise in the 1990s.
Scenes at Rydell High School were filmed at Excelsior High School, an abandoned school in Norwalk, California. Filming took place throughout a 58-day shooting schedule during the autumn of 1981. According to director Birch, the script was still incomplete when filming commenced. Sequences that were filmed but cut during post-production include scenes in which Frenchy helps Michael become a motorcycle rider, and a sequence at the end of the film showing Michael and Stephanie flying off into the sky on a motorcycle.
In the film, after Stephanie wins the contest, it goes on to show the stakeout in the final scene. Originally, there were a few minutes dedicated to a scene in which Michael (believed to be dead in his alter ego, by Stephanie) comes out on stage as Stephanie is exiting the stage, unbeknownst to her that he is the cool rider and he is alive. He attempts to ask her what's wrong and she storms past him and runs off crying, then it cuts to the stakeout. There was a scene within the "Who's that Guy?" number in which Goose accidentally smashes Rhonda's nose at the Bowl-A-Rama door. None of these scenes have been shown since the film's release.
- "Back to School Again" – Cast and The Four Tops (verses by the Pink Ladies are absent from the soundtrack)
- "Score Tonight" – T-Birds, Pink Ladies, Cast
- "Brad" – Noreen and Doreen
- "Cool Rider" – Stephanie
- "Reproduction" – Mr. Stuart and Students
- "Who's That Guy?" – Michael, T-Birds, Pink Ladies, Cycle Lords, and Cast
- "Do It for Our Country" – Louis and Sharon (Sharon's part is absent from the soundtrack)
- "Prowlin'" – Johnny and T-Birds
- "Charades" – Michael
- "Girl for All Seasons" – Sharon, Paulette, Rhonda, and Stephanie
- "(Love Will) Turn Back the Hands of Time" – Stephanie and Michael
- "Rock-a-Hula Luau (Summer Is Coming)" – Cast
- "We'll Be Together" – Michael, Stephanie, Johnny, Paulette, and Cast
Featured as background music at Rydell Sport Field:
- "Moon River" (The Spirit of Troy- University of Southern California Marching Band)
Featured as background music at the bowling alley:
- "Our Day Will Come" – Ruby & The Romantics (Grease 2 takes place in 1961-62 and "Our Day Will Come" did not come out until 1963)
- "Rebel Walk" – Duane Eddy (this was the B-side of his biggest hit "Because They're Young")
Featured at the beginning:
- "Alma Mater" – Instrumental (this song was played at the beginning when Principal McGee and Blanche put up the 1961 Rydell flag)
The sequel took in just over $15 million after coming at fifth on opening weekend behind E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Rocky III, and Poltergeist.
Barry Diller of Paramount said that the film "on no level is as good as the first. The quality isn't there." Jim Jacobs described it as "awful... the pits."
As of September 2017, the film had a rating of 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 critics' reviews, with an average rating of 3.6/10. The site's consensus states: "Grease 2 is undeniably stocked with solid songs and well-choreographed dance sequences, but there's no getting around the fact that it's a blatant retread of its far more entertaining predecessor." Janet Maslin for The New York Times condemned the film as "dizzy and slight, with an even more negligible plot than its predecessor had. This time the story can't even masquerade as an excuse for stringing the songs together. Songs? What songs? The numbers in Grease 2 are so hopelessly insubstantial that the cast is forced to burst into melody about pastimes like bowling." Variety, on the other hand, commended the staging of the musical numbers, writing that Patricia Birch has come up with some unusual settings (a bowling alley, a bomb shelter) for some of the scenes, and employs some sharp montage to give most of the songs and dances a fair amount of punch." Roger Ebert for the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 stars out of 4, saying: "This movie just recycles Grease, without the stars, without the energy, without the freshness and without the grease."
However, Pfeiffer received positive notices for her first major role. The New York Times review cited her performance as the "one improvement" on the original film: "Miss Pfeiffer is as gorgeous as any cover girl, and she has a sullen quality that's more fitting to a Grease character than Miss Newton-John's sunniness was." Variety wrote that she was "all anyone could ask for in the looks department, and she fills Olivia Newton-John's shoes and tight pants very well." Pfeiffer told the Los Angeles Times three years later:
Pfeiffer was nominated for a 1983 Young Artist Award in the category of Best Young Motion Picture Actress.
The film was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture.
The film's screenplay was adapted in the Kannada (South India) feature film Premaloka, starring Ravichandran and Juhi Chawla, released in 1987, which went on to become a blockbuster.
Paramount had intended to turn Grease into a multi-picture franchise with three sequels planned and a TV series down the road. When Grease 2 flopped at the box office, all the plans were scrapped.
Disney had made a script for a third film was made in 1999. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were to star as the children of Danny Zuko and Sandy Olsson, respectively. The plot was virtually the same as that 'High School Musical', but with more similarities to 'Grease'. Producers had tried to get Christina Aguilera for the part of Betty Rizzo's daughter, but she declined. Timberlake's band-mates from *NSYNC were to have supporting roles. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John allegedly were approached for cameo roles. But before the script went through a second re-write, the project was shelved until 2004. They would also have had to get permission from whoever owns the rights to Grease. The script received minor rewrites and changes to charatcer names and background and was made into a television movie called High School Musical.
In 2008, it was reported that Paramount was planning a new sequel to Grease that would debut straight to DVD.