The Expendables may never back down when a mission is on the line, but apparently superstar actor/producer Sylverster Stallone knows a lost cause when he sees one.
Deadline reports that Stallone, who served as star, writer, and producers on the first three Expendables movies, has left the Lionsgate franchise over "creative concerns."
The report indicates that Stallone couldn't come to terms with Nu Image/Millennium studio head Avi Lerner on almost anything, from script elements to a new director to even a visual effects house to handle the fourth movie, which is planned as the franchise's last.
There isn't much information yet about The Expendables 4, other than the fact that it's expected to start filming soon and that it has a budget of around $100 million. Reports in late 2015 were that it would have started production by now, but Stallone's attachment to numerous awards-season events for the Rocky follow-up Creed may have delayed the start of production. At one point, co-star Terry Crews had joked that Stallone might leave the action franchise behind if he won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, for which the veteran actor/filmmaker had been nominated.
Stallone has been the most significant driving force behind the Expendables films, acting as a producer, contributing to the scripts, and directing the first installment in the series.
The end of the series doesn't necessarily mean the end of the franchise. The Expendables have been one of a number of Lionsgate properties that have been consistently rumored for a TV treatment in recent years (along with Twilight and RED).
After the first two films of the franchise were rated R, The Expendables 3 was rated PG-13, and Stallone later described that decision as a "horrible miscalculation." Generally the PG-13 rating is a decision made to enhance a film's box office potential, but The Expendables 3 underperformed the rest of the franchise significantly. An unrated cut of The Expendables 3 was later released on home video.
A $100 million budget still seems well within the realm of reason or The Expendables 4: While the third made less than $40 million domestically (as opposed to $105 million for The Expendables), it also earned $175 million internationally, meaning that it would easily have turned a profit on a $100 million production budget.
No official release date is set for The Expendables 4 yet, which has not yet begun production. It isn't yet clear how Stallone's departure will impact the film.