Sylvester Stallone and his aging crew will return for The Expendables 4 in 2018 -- but after that, they're finally ready to retire.
The news broke via The Hollywood Reporter, who reported it as part of a German rights-acquisition deal. Splendid Film has acquired the rights to the film, as well as the upcoming dramas Home Again and Winchester, across German-speaking Europe.
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 is a 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).
Expect The Expendables 4 to be rated R, of course; only one of the movies -- 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.
Early reports indicated that Chuck Norris, a conservative Christian who appeared in The Expendables 2 and had objected to some of the film's language, wanted a PG-13 rating for the third movie and that the studio hoped to accommodate him. Norris, though, didn't return for the third installment so those reports seem dubious at best.
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.