There are two all-female-cast action/thrillers – inspired by Sylvester Stallone’s hit macho action throwback franchise The Expendables – that are being developed by Hollywood right now. One is an untitled project that producer Adi Shankar (The Grey, Dredd, Killing Them Softly) is currently putting together, with Gina Carano (Fast & Furious 6) and Katee Sackhoff (Riddick) very loosely attached to star… whenever it comes together, that is.
Meanwhile, Expendables franchise producer Avi Lerner is backing a direct spinoff of Sly’s 1980s/90s-inspired action brand, called The ExpendaBelles. Since The Expendables 3 concludes principal photography in Bulgaria this week, Lerner was in the country and spoke to the country’s press about what everyone can expect from the (Estrogen-fueled?) spinoff. In addition, he dropped a few of the names of actresses who are currently in negotiations for the film.
Lerner spoke with the Bulgarian news site Standart earlier this week, but it wasn’t until Deadline picked up the story that we heard about it. The producer told Standart that not only will he be back to shoot ExpendaBelles in the same country as the Expendables movies, but he also promised that the spinoff will be made by accomplished women on both sides of the camera – with set pieces and production values to match those for their male counterparts’ franchise.
Here is what Lerner told Standart (note: the following is probably a translation):
“The action movie will be spectacular – and in nothing inferior to the three male movies of the “The Expendables” There will be battles, special and visual effects and stunts – the spectacle will be equivalent to what Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis and Jean Claude van Damme have done … Two excellent screenwriters are already working on the picture. Now we are in search of a female director.”
For those unaware, the ExpendaBelles script is being written by Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith (Legally Blonde, The Ugly Truth). Whether or not you share Lener’s enthusiasm about that pair being involved behind the scenes, is a matter we leave to your discretion. (As we’ve mentioned in the past, it is possible that Lutz and Smith are planning to move as far away from the quality and tone of their previous work on ExpendaBelles.)
In addition, Lerner mentioned that negotiations are ongoing with several name actresses interested in joining the project. However, the three he proved willing to mention by name include three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep – whose next appearance will be in the awards-hopeful drama August: Osage County later this year – as well as Cameron Diaz (The Counselor) and Resident Evil‘s leading lady, Milla Jovovich. You may recall that Jovovich was also rumored for Expendables 3 at one point, but it seems as though that film’s producers decided to save her for ExpendaBelles instead.
Jovovich and Diaz – who kung-fu’d people in the Charlie’s Angels series and as high-fly-kicking Fiona in the Shrek movies (kidding on the second one… sorta) – make a reasonable amount of sense for a tongue-in-cheek action movie about female mercenaries, but Streep is more of a left-field choice for that kind of genre fare. Then again, chances are good that the Academy-favorite actress will be playing one of the ExpendaBelles’ employers (a la Bruce Willis in Expendables 1 & 2); though, we’re not against having Streep pick up a gun at some point in the film (hey, it worked for Helen Mirren in the RED franchise).
On that note, it might be best that everyone anticipates ExpendaBelles amounting to little more than a campy celebration of feminine power – even more than the Expendables movies are kitschy testosterone-fueled action homages – rather than a sincere expression of female empowerment, along the lines of a James Cameron film like Aliens and/or Terminator 2: Judgement Day. For the latter, it seems as though you’re probably better off waiting to see when/if Shankar’s project comes together.
Let us know if you’re interested in seeing The ExpendaBelles, based on what you’re heard thus far.