Cannes is at it again! Projects will be sold and/or pre-sold left and right over the coming weeks. Because of this, Cannes is filled with all kinds of sales art. Some of it is for projects that are already put together. Some of it is for projects that producers are hoping to make reality. For the moment, The Expendables 4 is the latter, but that isn’t stopping Millennium Films from drumming up interest…
So what’s the problem with this image? The problem is that Sylvester Stallone dropped out of the film two months ago due to creative differences. In Hollywood, that excuse can often mean money. While I’m sure that’s a factor, it appears that Stallone wasn’t happen with the current script or the direction the franchise was being taken in.
To make matters worse, following his departure, Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he wouldn’t return for a Sly-less Expendables film. Mind you Arnold’s character, Trench Mauser, was never a major one, but it sets up a potential pattern. After all, this franchise has been populated with Stallone’s pals. With Sly gone, expect the rest of the cast to continue dropping out of the project like flies, including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, and Antonio Banderas.
Add in the fact that Jet Li only ever came back for the sequels due to contractual obligations and you’re looking at an Expendables films that won’t have any of the original Expendables in it. While I’m sure Millennium could push forward without them, it would only result in a DTV outing utilizing some of the younger cast members from the last one (Kellan Lutz, Victor Ortiz, etc.). Such a film might clean-up on the rental/home video market, but it will cost them those big overseas theatrical dollars that they clearly want.
Even if Millennium concedes creative control of the franchise to Stallone on Expendables 4 to get him (and the rest of them) back, I’m not so sure it will get made. Not because of money or creative vision, but simply because none of them need it anymore. Stallone is still riding high in the wake of Creed. He just had a small role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and is contracted to appear in more Marvel films going forward. He has a mob TV series (“Omerta“) in the works, a film with the highly-lauded Olivier Assayas in the works (Idol’s Eye), is being eyed to topline a big Fox genre picture (Starlight), and still has Creed 2 batting around. On the more traditional action front, he also has Escape Plan 2 in post-production and just recently signed on to co-star with Jackie Chan in Ex-Baghdad.
His fellow teammates are doing pretty well too. Statham has the Fast & Furious franchise now, even getting his own spin-off (with Dwayne Johnson) soon, plus his crazy giant shark blockbuster (Meg) next year. Lundgren has a recurring role on “Arrow” and was just cast in James Wan’s Aquaman. Jet Li continues to work regularly in Asia and fellas like Snipes, Couture, Crews, and Banderas aren’t lacking for work either. That just leaves Schwarzenegger, who just had an drama hit VOD, has two films in post-production, and is gearing up to shoot two more later this year.
Everybody is working. Will Millennium be able to sweeten the pot to get them back for an Expendables 4 in 2019? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s time that they finally make the long-promised female team spin-off, The Expendabelles, or the oft-mentioned potential TV series offshoot? Both would be better options than cranking out a DTV sequel that no one is happy with.
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