The deck was stacked against Expendables 4 and it ended up losing a big chunk of change in the end. So, where to go from here?
The Expendables 4 or Expend4bles is an interesting monster. It’s a huge money loser, with the film’s overall gross only $1 million more than the third film, which was a flop, made on it’s opening weekend. Despite producer Les Weldon teasing an Expendables 5 when we interviewed him, this seems to be the end of the road for the franchise. The previous entry, The Expendables III, faced backlash from fans when the movie made two faux pas that went against the series’ intention — it became a watered-down PG-13 entry, and it introduced younger cast members with no ties to the glory days of action films. The inclusion of stars like Mel Gibson and a welcomed return of Wesley Snipes became overshadowed by a large chunk of a “recruiting new team members” subplot. Recruiting younger members even contradicted a plot point in Expendables 2 when Barney felt guilty for getting a character played by Liam Hemsworth killed and felt the Expendable lifestyle wasn’t for soldiers with a lot more life ahead of them. Then, he recruits younger soldiers with a lot more life ahead of them in the next film.
Enter Expend4bles. Fans have all but given up on the series by now. The stars have moved on as well. Stallone got to reignite his performance as Rocky Balboa in the Creed movies and is now finding a new niche with Tulsa King. Statham joined the Fast & Furious series and fought baddies alongside Dwayne Johnson. However, when they both returned to the Expendables franchise for another hurrah, it would end in an unspectacular way. According to ScreenRant, Expend4bles was projected to open with an estimated $15-$17 million but would only make $8 million at its opening. That opening weekend pretty much killed any chance of an Expendables 5 ever happening.
On paper, there seemed to be some promising elements for this film. Although action fans were skeptical of an American production attempting to capture the amazing skills of the movie’s overseas stars, there was still a gleaming sliver of hope that The Raid‘s Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa could at least get a couple of sequences to shine. After all, they have been able to accomplish so much without a large budget. Unfortunately, this would not be the case. Additionally, Stallone’s role was greatly reduced, citing an attempt to pass the torch to Statham. The movie’s questionable casting of Megan Fox, 50 Cent and Andy Garcia was also a head-scratcher since none of them have been associated with the action genre of the 80s or 90s or even the 2000s.
So, what’s next for the series? The obvious thing going forward would be to let the franchise lie in its grave. However, if the production company, Millennium Films, was somehow keen to Expendables 5, they would have to really pull out an amazing deck of cards for enough interest to rise and see some success. Although, some sort of rebranding on the straight-to-streaming market with some proven action talents could give the franchise an extended life. Indie action movies have the benefit of getting creative when they don’t have big studio budgets, and they smartly highlight their stars’ skills at action and stunts. A good action design can outshine the biggest explosion in any action film.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/expendables-5/