Name the 1980s/'90s action star - Wesley Snipes, Jackie Chan, Harrison Ford and yes, Nicolas "Face/Off/Con Air" Cage - and chances are, they've been rumored to appear in The Expendables 3 over the past year.
Last week, however, we finally got a more definite update on the casting situation. Deals involving old-timers like Ford and Clint Eastwood - who were rumored early on to possibly join the Expendables franchise - seem unlikely to materialize at this point, but Chan, Snipes, Cage and the Resident Evil franchise's leading lady, Milla Jovovich, are very close to formally RSVP'ing for Sylvester Stallone's third cinematic barbecue of explosions, one-liners and gunfire.
Lionsgate, as has long been expected, is planning to release Expendables 3 in U.S. theaters next Summer - just under two years exactly after Expendables 2 opened on the big screen - after filming starts in late August/early September this year, to make the newly-set August 15th, 2014 date.
In a related piece of release date news, the studio has pushed back the upcoming Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger team-effort vehicle - Escape Plan, formerly known as The Tomb - from a planned September 13th, 2013 theatrical launch to a month later on October 18th (where it will square off against Carrie, Don Jon and The Seventh Son).
Escape Plan, for those unfamiliar, features Stallone and Schwarzenegger as a pair of inmates - jailed in a unusual prison designed by Sly's character - who decide to join forces and come up with a (you guessed it) escape plan. Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest) is costarring as the warden of said uniquely-structured prison - known as "The Tomb" - who may or may not know the truth behind Sly ending up wrongly-imprisoned.
Both Schwarzenegger and Stallone's individual vehicles released this year - The Last Stand and Bullet to the Head - flopped at the box office, despite each one being a good example of how to make a down n' dirty action genre throwback work in a present-day setting (and featuring stars who are over 60 years old, no less).
Problem is, those films were directed by a pair of pretty talented filmmakers - Kim Ji-woon (I Saw the Devil) and Walter Hill (Red Heat) - whereas Escape Plan is being helmed by Mikael Håfström, who (comparatively-speaking) is a director-for-hire - based on his previous output, which includes the Clive Owen thriller Derailed, the Stephen King adaptation 1408 and the Anthony Hopkins exorcism flick, The Rite.
That's to say: Escape Plan may not prove to be as good as either Sly or Arnold's recent solo films, but having the pair together should result in greater ticket sales (which, if that happens, would go to show: old dogs can sell tickets, so long as they work together or appear in franchise titles).
On that note: Expendables 3 - as discussed on the Screen Rant Underground podcast over the weekend - should easily be the most profitable of the bunch. The movie's overall quality, though, will largely depend on whether or not the series continues down the path of embracing its innate ridiculousness (more than even The Expendables 2).
Escape Plan opens in U.S. theaters on October 18th, 2013.
The Expendables 3 reaches U.S. theaters on August 15th, 2014.