Sylvester Stallone famously quit his own massive Lionsgate film franchise — so why did he rejoin the team for another round in The Expendables 4?
In 2022, Sylvester Stallone is making his triumphant return to The Expendables 4. After famously declining to return to the franchise he started and the $20 million dollar paycheck that came with it, Sylvester Stallone will return as Barney Ross to lead The Expendables mercenary team. With The Expendables 4 wrapping production, what once seemed like an unlikely return has now become a guarantee.
The profitable Lionsgate action films eventually stalled after The Expendables 3 released in 2014 after entering a sort of development hell. While The Expendables 3 performed the worst out of all of The Expendables movies at the box office, The Expendables 4 originally entered production almost immediately. Shortly after The Expendable 3 released, Stallone was mentioning plans for casting and his plan for the movie to be the final one in the main series. The Expendables 4 reunites Sylvester Stallone with his former costars, Jason Statham and Dolph Lundgren. Newcomers featured in the conclusive Expendables entry will entice fans with names like Megan Fox, 50 Cent, and Tony Jaa.
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Despite originally seeming eager for the new movie, Sylvester Stallone publicly quit The Expendables 4 in 2017 because he was struggling with creative differences with his team and production relating to the franchise’s direction and the script for The Expendables 4. While it seemed for some time that the franchise might be dead in the water after this, a deluge of cast members vocalized their support for Stallone, including one-time California Governor. This ultimately led to the Rambo star announcing his return to The Expendables 4 in early 2018, helping to confirm the development of a fourth and final film.
Whenever “creative differences” are cited as the reason behind someone leaving a project, it can be hard to know what the real story was. Officially, Sylvester Stallone and Millennium Media CEO Avi Lerner could not agree on the writing and direction. However, it seems that other factors were at play as Stallone’s ideas for the visual effects and CGI team for The Expendables 4 did not align with the plans from the producer. For a movie franchise that relies more on its action sequences than it does its plot, it is understandable that this might have been a serious issue for Stallone with continuing to work on The Expendables 4.
While the poor box office return for The Expendables 3 might seem like it makes returning for The Expendables 4 an odd choice, it seems likely that it is the passion of the actors, and particularly Sylvester Stallone, that keeps it going. The fun franchise might be ending its main run with The Expendables 4, but Stallone is currently attached to produce a female-led The Expendables spin-off. It is safe to say, that if Sylvester Stallone is working on The Expendables 4 it is because he wants to be there: Stallone has no shortage of work as he appears in Samaritan in 2022, will return to his MCU role as Stakar Ogord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, is set to be in the TV series Tulsa King, and will star in the dystopian future action movie Little America. Sylvester Stallone left because The Expendables 4 couldn’t be what he wanted it to be, but since Stallone’s return new writers and directors have come in, and it can be assured that fans will finally receive the action, violence, and movie stars that the franchise promises.
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The Expendables 4 (2022)Release date: Apr 02, 2022
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Maxfield Applegate is a newly featured writer for Screen Rant. Since the start of his journey in film school in Pittsburgh, he has written and fell in love with the many forms of entertainment: mainly TV, movies, video games and the web. As super fanatic of The Simpsons, plus Batman and TMNT, Max looks forward to writing on superheroes topics of the ’20s. Now living in Manhattan for almost half a year, Max enjoys running, comic books and seeing films in IMAX cinemas.
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