There are action movies, and then there’s ‘The Expendables.’ The movie series might be tongue-in-cheek, and the cast that makes up the film may be made up of stars whose days of playing tough guys and indestructible superheroes ought to be behind them, but there’s no denying that all three of the films we’ve seen so far were a lot of fun to watch. Very few people expected the 2010 original to perform so well that it gained a sequel, but it outperformed expectations to such an extent that the 2012 sequel was followed up in 2014 by a third movie. It’s not just a cult-hit novelty film – it’s a successful film franchise. Even the third movie managed to bring in double its production budget at the box office.
Since 2014, though, everything’s been a little quiet on the production front. There were rumors of a fourth installment in the tale as the hype around the third started to die down, but years have passed without us hearing anything other than the occasional rumor. At one point, we were told that the fourth film would be a Christmas-based story that might have one or two things in common with the original ‘Die Hard.’ Another rumor suggested a reboot with an all-female cast, under the hokey name of ‘The ExpendaBelles.’ As absurd as that suggestion appeared to be, Cameron Diaz, Meryl Streep, and Milla Jovovich were said to be involved. All of those rumors came to nothing, and the franchise appeared to have died – until now.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone – the two headline stars who’ve driven the story in the films until now have both repeatedly ruled themselves out and then back in for a fourth film, but neither of them has said anything on the matter in quite some time. Randy Couture has though – and not only does he think there’s potential for a sequel, but he’s positive that it’s happening. In a recent interview, the UFC star says that things are moving ahead at such a pace that a full script has been written – which he’s had a chance to read – and that it’s excellent. Couture plays a demolition expert in the films, and so if he’s been sent a script directly, it logically follows that the other main players in the story are in possession of one, too.
The first three films went from being an interesting Hollywood sideshow to a bonafide action movie franchise of the type that generally doesn’t get made anymore. The all-out action films of the 1980s and 1990s are seen as unfashionable by modern studios, who favor gritty realism, but the success of the films has demonstrated that there’s still an audience for nostalgia-driven tough-guy movies. That success is reflected at online slots websites, where a game based on ‘The Expendables’ continues to draw money long after the franchise came to an end. It isn’t the only movie-themed online slots new UK available – it’s an increasingly popular genre – but the fact that it’s still online suggests that it still connects with an audience. An online slots game doesn’t indicate that a brand still has value on its own – but it wouldn’t exist at all if the potential to make money isn’t there.
While we can safely assume that Randy Couture will be in the fourth film, and probably Stallone and Schwarzenegger too, one man who definitely won’t be involved in the production is Bruce Willis. Willis was unceremoniously fired from the third movie before it started filming, with Harrison Ford brought in to replace him. At the time, it was reported that the ‘Die Hard’ star had asked to be paid one million dollars per day for just four days worth of filming. Not content with firing Willis, Stallone subsequently took to Twitter to call the actor ‘greedy’ and ‘lazy,’ further suggesting that Willis’ negotiating strategy was a ‘formula for career failure.’ It’s probably safe to assume that the men no longer exchange Christmas cards.
Before we get too excited, we should remember that the existence of a script doesn’t necessarily indicate the existence of a movie. There were presumably also scripts written for the Christmas-themed fourth film years ago, and also for the female-led narrative that was supposed to start filming in 2015 but never did. Couture notes that while he has a script, he doesn’t yet have a contract, and therefore we’re a long way off seeing the stars of the franchise go in front of the cameras. Even for a proven success like ‘The Expendables,’ there’s no guarantee that a script will be green-lit by a movie studio. It might be the case that studios read the script, disagree with Couture’s assessment of it, and decide not to invest their funds in it. Someone somewhere has presumably been paid to write that script, though, and so it’s to be hoped that a studio has at least a passing interest in seeing it made.
Every new ‘Expendables’ movie provides an opportunity for a new star to be added to the cast. Aside from the existing stars, we’d like to see Jason Statham return alongside Dolph Lundgren. There are more action movie stars on the block who haven’t had the chance to make their ‘Expendables’ debut yet, though. Dwayne Johnson would be an obvious hire, and presumably would be a major casting target if the film does get the green light. His fellow former WWE wrestler John Cena has also been pursuing a movie career with some success in recent years, and so he can probably expect to get a call. An ‘Expendables’ film should be a celebration of everything that’s great about the action movie genre, and if it’s a celebration, then all of the people who make that genre great should be invited.
As production hasn’t yet been approved or started, we think it might be a while before we get to see this fourth film. Even assuming that the go-ahead is given and the cast can get in front of the cameras toward the end of this year, late 2021 is probably the earliest time we can expect to see the finished product, and we can’t even rule out 2022 instead. By that time, Stallone and Schwarzenegger will be comfortably into their mid-70s. That would make it almost certain that their fourth ‘Expendables’ film will also be their last – so let’s hope they make it a good one.