For those who loved the action movies of the 80s and 90s, the Expendables series has brought together many of the biggest names from that era to get into explosive shenanigans with younger action stars and even some notable actors who aren't usually associated with that genre. The Expendables 4 has taken a little longer to get off the ground, but as of last December, it was expected to begin shooting this year. However, today brings the news that Sylvester Stallone will not be returning for the fourth installment because of disagreements with the production company chief.
Despite supposedly walking away from an over $20 million payday, Sylvester Stallone has decided not to reprise Barney Ross in The Expendables 4 and will not have any involvement with the movie. Stallone was unable to find common ground with Nu Films/Millenium Films chief Avi Lerner on who should be the new director, how the script was being handled and more. There was even apparently an argument about the company that would handle the visual effects.
According to Deadline's sources, Stallone was worried about the "potentially underwhelming results" of another franchise he's involved with, especially after coming off the resounding success of Creed with Michael B. Jordan. Considering how the previous three Expendables movies were critically received, that's a reasonable concern. Lerner acknowledged to the outlet that although he and Stallone have had their "disagreements" in the past, he doesn't believe their partnership is over quite yet. Going off this report, though, it sounds like Stallone has exited the Expendables world for good, so Lerner shouldn't get his hopes up for reconciliation.
Sylvester Stallone leaving The Expendables 4 is unquestionably a major blow. He's been one of the series' key participants since the beginning, not just by playing Barney Ross, but also directing the first movie and co-writing all three movies. His departure will certainly be felt both on and off camera, and it begs the question on what's going to happen with The Expendables 4 now. Barney Ross is one of the lead characters, so obviously script rewrites will be necessary to let audiences know why he's absent from the fourth movie, which is also set to conclude the series.
While Sylvester Stallone was one of the main players of the Expendables franchise, there are still others who can lead this next adventure. Stallone's costars in the previous three movies have included Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Randy Coture and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to name a few. Statham, Lundgren and Schwarzenegger are reportedly coming back, but with Stallone out of the picture, it's unclear if or how their roles will change.
We'll keep you updated on how The Expendables 4 is progressing as more news comes in, but you can see Sylvester Stallone next in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He also has Escape Plan 2 coming down the pipeline, and the Deadline report mentioned that he's hoping to work with Jackie Chan on something.