The Lethal Weapon franchise, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, is coming to Netflix next month in its entirety. The franchise, originated from writer Shane Black (Iron Man 3) and director Richard Donner (Superman: The Movie), ran from 1987 until 1998 and earned almost $1 billion at the global box office off a total budget (for all four movies) that's less than the cost of any given Marvel Studios film (and, heck, if you omit the incredibly expensive Lethal Weapon 4, you could say that the first three movies made around $700 million and cost less than $100 million).
Lethal Weapon also spawned a TV spinoff, starring Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans. The troubled series ran for three seasons on Fox, but Crawford -- who had offscreen issues both on and off-set that Warner Bros. TV and Fox didn't want to deal with -- was let go and replaced by Seann William Scott in a new role.
Besides the TV series, the franchise is attracting attention again amid reports that Donner will return to direct a fifth installment of the franchise, following up with Gibson's Riggs and Glover's Murtaugh. Black and Chuck Mondry had reportedly turned in a spec script for the project, but it seems as though Donner is going for a screenplay from Channing Gibson, whose biggest theatrical hit was rebooting Walking Tall in 2004 with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Lethal Weapon was a high-adrenaline twist on the idea of a buddy-cop comedy. Operating somewhere between Die Hard and Beverly Hills Cop, the franchise paired Martin Riggs -- an edgy young cop with a death wish -- with Roger Murtaugh, an older cop nearing retirement and absolutely not interested in Riggs's nonsense. The pair were assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of a young woman whose father had served in Vietnam with Riggs. Ultimately they discovered a complex conspiracy involving the upper echelons of the military and multimillion-dollar drug deals.
During the life of the series, they brought in recurring characters played by Joe Pesci, Renee Russo, and Chris Rock, all of whom more or less played an exaggerated version of the roles they were already playing at that point in their careers.
Prior to the return of Donner, Gibson and Glover had expressed some reluctance about coming back for another Lethal Weapon film, but it now appears that if the movie does go forward, Donner has convinced the two to come back.
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