Movies & TV / Columns

Is the Expendables Franchise Dead?

April 3, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

Sylvester Stallone has departed The Expendables series due to creative disagreements with Millennium Films’ Avi Lerner over plans for a fourth film. Deadline noted that the two could not agree on a new director, the script and more which led to Stallone — who directed the first film and wrote all three (an addition to starring) walking away.

In other words, “creative differences” is the main issue for Stallone. Deadline said:

:Sources said that Stallone — who set a high bar for himself reprising Rocky Balboa with Michael B Jordan and director Ryan Coogler in Creed — was concerned about potentially underwhelming results of another franchise with which he is indelibly linked. Stallone wrote the first script with Dave Callaham, co-wrote all the sequels, and directed the first film. But knowledgeable sources said that Expendables team leader Barney Ross has led his last mission.

Lerner acknowledged the differences he has had with Stallone, but wasn’t willing to concede a divorce just yet. “We’ve got disagreements with Sly, but we’ve had them for over a year and a half,” he told Deadline. “Right now, each one has an opinion. We agreed on 95% of things, but there are certain things in production we don’t agree on. I don’t think it’s over, but write whatever you want. In my opinion, it’s not dead.””

The Expendables franchise has had three films and brought a number of familiar and popular action stars into it including core stars Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Other stars have included Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Harrison Ford, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Ronda Rousey and others. The franchise has been a profitable one for Lionsgate and Millennium Films, although The Expendables 3 was a downtick in fan reception and profit with $214.7 million on a $90 million budget, compared to $314.9 million against $100 million for the second film.

Does the franchise continue under new leadership? Certainly you can put Schwarzenegger into a leadership role but they have other angles that they could explore. Stallone was the heart of the franchise and I could see it suffering without his guiding hand. He championed the idea and was passionate in its marketing. Losing him is a huge loss and puts into question the future of the franchise.

To me, The Expendables was an idea that worked great on paper but never touched it’s possibilities on the big screen. I’d go with a more Dirty Dozen type tone and fully embrace the 80s action most of the stars are known for. Shake things up and maybe even…GASP…reboot the franchise with a new direction.

What are your thoughts on the future of The Expendables?