The Expendables films are known for bringing together a menagerie of former and current action stars, but series headliner Sylvester Stallone has had as much to do behind-the-scenes with the franchise as he has in front of it. Now, though, he’s leaving it all behind.
A new report says Stallone is leaving The Expendables 4 after a dispute with the studio. Nu Image/Millenium Films head honcho Avi Lerner is said to have disagreed with Stallone over multiple aspects of the upcoming film.
Stallone and Lerner could not agree on a director for the film, a script, or other “qualitative elements,” including such minutiae as which production house to hire for the film’s CGI effects.
As a result, Stallone is walking away from a potential payday of more than $20 million — the biggest of his career. Lerner acknowledged that he and Stallone have had “disagreements” but is optimistic they can still be worked out.
In 2010, Stallone helped create The Expendables franchise when he took an original script by writer David Callaham (Doom, Godzilla) and reworked it to suit the ensemble film he was looking to make.
Stallone went on to also direct The Expendables and was instrumental in recruiting some of the other stars to take part. He stepped away from the director’s chair for The Expendables 2 and 3 but did co-write the scripts for both films.
In a prior disagreement between the star and the studio, Stallone expressed disappointment in the decision to make The Expendables 3 a PG-13 film instead of the R-rating held by the first two films. Stallone blamed the toned-down violence for the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance.
Millenium Films is also working on a female-driven spin-off film called The ExpendaBelles. At one point, Lerner claimed to be in talks with Meryl Streep, Cameron Diaz, and Milla Jovovich to star; Stallone has no involvement.
Lerner and Stallone had also announced plans to produce a television event series version of The Expendables, starring former TV action heroes instead of film stars. At last word, the studio was still seeking a network for the potential new show.