Put away the rocket launchers. Send the helicopters back to their hangers. Leave the knives unhurled, the guns uncocked, the Jeeps tragically un-blown-up. Sylvester Stallone has quit The Expendables.
Deadline reports that Stallone has walked away from the series—a weird sentence to write, admittedly—over ongoing concerns about the direction and quality of its planned fourth installment. He apparently argued with long-time producing partner Avi Lerner over a number of aspects of the film, mostly boiling down to whether the actor and co-writer was chaining himself to yet another diminishing returns buffet of an action movie franchise. (Working on Creed, with Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler, appears to have reminded Stallone that he can actually be in good movies when someone reminds him to do so.)
But Lerner refuted Stallone’s claims that he’s out. “We’ve got disagreements with Sly, but we’ve had them for over a year and a half,” he told Deadline. “We agreed on 95% of things, but there are certain things in production we don’t agree on. I don’t think it’s over, but write whatever you want. In my opinion, it’s not dead.” In Lerner’s defense, there are still, at a rough estimate, 5,000 mid-tier action stars hanging around the Expendables universe, so it’s not like Stallone is entirely unreplaceable, even if he’s absolutely committed to walking away. (And now he’s got us imagining an Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus situation, where Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Chuck Norris all take turns playing Stallone’s abandoned part.)