24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Sylvester Stallone

'The Expendables' aims to come back -- but with Stalllone in a different guise

March 8, 2011 |  4:58 pm

Stall
EXCLUSIVE: Fans of 'The Expendables" have been clamoring for a sequel since the final round of alter kocker gunfire went off last summer.

Now it looks like they'll get their wish-- but without Sylvester Stallone behind the camera.

The follow-up movie is a priority at producer Millennium Films, where it's being developed by  Stallone, the creative force behind the original. But Stallone, who both starred in and directed the 2010 summer hit, isn't, at the moment, planning on helming the new movie. Instead, he's been meeting with directors to tackle the sequel, said a person who was briefed on the project but was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

The script for the new movie has been written by David Agosto and Ken Kaufman, the latter of whom counts the Clint Eastwood adventure "Space Cowboys" and family comedy "Curious George" among his credits, said the source. (Stallone co-wrote the script for the original with David Callaham.)

A spokeswoman for Millennium declined to comment.

Made essentially outside the studio system and distributed by Lionsgate, "The Expendables" became a $275-million global grosser on the strength of an action-hero ensemble cast that included Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Steve Austin. In the movie, a motley crew of action heroes gather to overthrow a South American despot. There's no word yet on the mission in the new movie.

Stallone has been talking about an "Expendables" sequel since before the first movie opened, telling 24 Frames last August that he "had an idea ready to go," and adding that he's "going to try to do something that's quite radical." He's subsequently said he'd like to dial in new characters and reduce the role of  older characters.

Some of the casting speculation for a possible sequel has centered on Bruce Willis getting a larger role, fueled by Stallone's tweet last summer that he wanted the actor as a "super villain." But maybe more intriguing is the prospect of Arnold Schwarzenegger making an appearance: The former governor had a walk-on part in the first "Expendables." But he has a lot more time now that Sacramento has made him, well, you know.

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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Photo: Stallone & co. in "The Expendables." Credit: Lionsgate

 


Stallone: I'm contemplating an 'Expendables' sequel

August 10, 2010 |  5:10 pm

Expendables With pre-release surveys for "The Expendables" indicating huge levels of excitement among male filmgoers, director Sylvester Stallone says he's ready to roll on a sequel if investors are willing.

"If this does perform, I think it will open a little more liquidity in funding the sequel," he said. "I have an idea ready to go. People think doing a sequel is easy, but it's not because you need the element of surprise. I'm going to try to do something that's quite radical."

Stallone offered few specifics on what that radical idea might be, but the hyphenate isn't shy about what "Expendables," which is poised to open north of $30 million this weekend, means for his career. In an interview for a story that ran in today's Times, Stallone said he first pitched the movie, which he also co-wrote, at the American Film Market more than two years ago. AFM, held in Santa Monica each November, is traditionally a bazaar of sorts for movies starring actors a little past their prime domestically but well known overseas. But Stallone, who still has plenty of cachet internationally, initially couldn't find investors for "The Expendables."

It was only later in 2008 that independent financier Avi Lerner stepped up to cover the movie's $82-million budget, most through foreign presales. In addition, Lionsgate paid nearly $20 million for rights to distribute the movie -- which co-stars action names such as Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Jason Statham and Jet Li (and features cameos from classic action heroes Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger) -- in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain.

Of course, big expectations don't always result in big results at the box office, as Lionsgate learned the hard way with "Kick-Ass." But Stallone, who admits he's as nervous as he has ever been before a movie opened, said his fears are eased a bit when he remembers that he broke his neck doing stunts on the set of "The Expendables."

"It's a good omen," he explained. "I didn't get a hangnail on the set of 'Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.' "

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Sylvester Stallone in "The Expendables." Credit: Karen Ballard / Lionsgate

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MPAA takes down 'Expendables' fan trailer; will filmmakers re-cut?

July 14, 2010 |  3:46 pm

Apparently we weren't the only ones taking note of that fan ode to"The Expendables" trailer.

The "Call to Arms" homage -- which impressed us and plenty of other YouTube viewers with its brilliant use of an Andrew W.K. song and its playful call to arms for men to take back the box office -- has been taken down at the request of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

Our first thought was that Lionsgate, perturbed that a fan trailer was showing up its own marketing material (there were nearly 200,000 views for the fan piece in less than two days), may have made the request. But the studio didn't contact YouTube.

The MPAA, however, did, and though the group doesn't typically get hot and bothered about fan trailers, it did in this case. "We don't normally get involved, but there was a shot in the trailer that suggested it had been submitted for approval by our advertising review board, and it hadn't," a spokesman told 24 Frames. (The shot in question is that screen you probably see but barely notice at the front of all trailers stating that the trailer has been approved by the MPAA for a given audience.)

That screen also featured a green all-audience message here for a trailer that quickly flashes an obscenity at the end; the spokesman said that combination was a small factor in the MPAA's decision but "not the main reason."

All of that probably means that a trailer re-cut without the MPAA screen would pass muster. We're imagining a call to arms for a new "Call to Arms." [UPDATE - 10:37 am Thursday: Looks like producers The Monocular Group have indeed recut without the offending screen, and the trailer is alive and doing well.]

-- Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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Fans make Lionsgate's Stallone trailer expendable

July 13, 2010 |  7:35 pm

Often the moviegoing public looks at how a studio is marketing a movie and says "We can do better." And then, sometimes, they go out and do just that.

There’s nothing painfully wrong with Lionsgate’s trailer for “The Expendables,” which you can see here. But there’s nothing especially good about it either. There’s far too much wind-up before it gets to the action shots for a movie that mainly appeals to men, and certainly far too much pseudo-patriotic mumbo jumbo. (“They must make the ultimate sacrifice for a chance to change history.")

Not so for the imaginative fan trailer above, which is starting to get some nice traction on the Web. The rave-up Andrew W.K. song, the cut-straight-to-the-testosterone pacing (and the quick cuts when it gets there) and, most of all, the good-natured battle-of-the-sexes, take-back-the-box-office conceit. Moviegoers don't necessarily shell out $10  to make a statement of masculinity. But the play to that sentiment is brilliant -- it's exactly what the movie does, after all -- and far more persuasive than the tepid, hit-all-the-right-focus-group notes.

Studios aren’t about to turn over the marketing keys to fans. But sometimes the fans take it anyway, Stallone-style. And when they do, it can be a beautiful thing.

--Steven Zeitchik

Twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Video: Fan trailer for "The Expendables"

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With trailer appearance, is Schwarzenegger paving the way for a post-gubernatorial Hollywood career?

April 3, 2010 |  2:14 pm

Like everyone else who poses that question provocatively in a headline, we haven't the faintest idea of the answer. But a couple points did stand out to us as we watched the California governor's much-ballyhooed turn in Sylvester Stallone's upcoming "The Expendables."

First, judging by the line he utters, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't seem to be playing himself here, a departure from other cameos he's done while in office. Second, why in the name of Conan the Barbarian are a bunch of mercenaries hanging out in a church?

Anyway, as you see from the rest of this trailer, in all its thwomping soundtrack and cheap jingoist glory, the Lionsgate release features 80s-era stars like Stallone, Mickey Rourke and Bruce Willis all grabbing machine guns and fighting for some Cold War-style justice. So it's fitting that Schwarzenegger is here too.

There was, as you may recall, some controversy when the governor took the acting job; it came during the budget crisis -- um, one of the many budget crises -- going on in Sacramento. The fruit of Schwarzenegger's excursion looks like it turned out OK -- well, sort of. While the "He loves playing in the jungle" line is just funny enough when said to the man who once played Rambo (Stallone, who wrote the movie, is doing self-mocking irony now?), his other line, "Give this job to my friend here," may be a quote you don't want memorialized on film while holding the highest elected office in California. "The Daily Show" clip artists are already licking their lips.

At any rate, we wouldn't be surprised if this was the beginning of a new film phase for the man whose most famous line is "I'll be back." Actors who become California governors can go on to big things when they leave Sacramento. And since the Constitution prevents that kind of big thing for Schwarzenegger, he might have to opt for the other big thing, the kind that involves Avi Lerner action movies.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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