If there is one thing that Sylvester Stallone knows really well, its movie franchises. The writer, director, and actor made himself a household name by writing himself the lead role in Rocky, which was eventually followed by six sequels, five of which he wrote and four of which he directed. He also starred as John Rambo in four films, all of which he wrote. And in more recent years, he created a new franchise: The Expendables.
The Expendables and its two sequels star Stallone as the leader of an elite team of mercenaries. The movies in the franchise are known for their large ensembles of action stars, bringing together some of the most muscular actors in Hollywood. While action films, the movies have comedic moments and are very self-aware, with references to the various actor's famous taglines and previous roles to Chuck Norris mentioning one of the Chuck Norris Facts that swept the Internet, a few years back. After three successful films in the last seven years, a fourth movie in the franchise was already being worked on.
But now, Sylvester Stallone is stepping away from The Expendables 4, despite having co-written and starred in the first three movies. Stallone also called the shots on the original Expendables movie. According to Deadline, Stallone and Avi Lerner, Chief of Nu Image/Millennium have had a falling out over the direction of The Expendables 4, including the film's script and choice of director. Allegedly, Stallone is concerned about a franchise connected to him having a film which is underwhelming. In walking away, Stallone is leaving behind a more than $20 million paycheck.
There is no word at this time on how the absence of Stallone's character Barney Ross will be explained in The Expendables 4, assuming the film moves forward. It is also unclear who will take over leadership of the group of mercenaries in his place, in any and all future installments in the action movie franchise. At the end of The Expendables 3 Ross was celebrating the addition of several new recruits onto his team. So some kind of explanation will be needed to explain why he would leave the team right after he helped it grow.
Aside from The Expendables 4 the franchise is still scheduled to include an all female spin-off at some point, under the title of The ExpendaBelles. Stallone recently received an Oscar nomination for reprising his role as Rocky Balboa in Creed and will have an appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. He is also currently working on another action movie franchise installment, in the form of the Escape Plan sequel.
We'll bring you more information on The Expendables 4 when we have it.