Sylvester Stallone walks away from Expendables franchise

There wouldn't even be an Expendables franchise without Sylvester Stallone. Now we may be about to find out whether it can keep going without him.

According to sources at Deadline, the fourth installment in the all-star action series has hit a pretty major snag, as Stallone has reportedly "washed his hands" of the project. Given that he created the franchise—and has written, directed, and starred in it—this comes as a fairly big surprise, especially since he stood to take home "north of $20 million," which would have been the largest front-end payday of his blockbuster-studded career.

Stallone's concerns seem to stem from the feeling that, after earning critical praise for his turn in Creed, he only stands to hurt his image by making another critically underwhelming action movie. Taking into account the diminishing returns suffered over the length of the Expendables series, it isn't hard to see where Stallone might be coming from. On the other hand, we're still talking about a guy who recently signed up to make a sequel to Escape Plan, so this might just be a hardball negotiating tactic on his part.

Avi Lerner, head of the Nu Image/Millennium imprint that distributes the Expendables movies, seems to agree. "We've got disagreements with Sly, but we've had them for over a year and a half," he shrugged when reached for comment by Deadline. "Right now, each one has an opinion. We agreed on 95 percent 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."

Deadline's report suggests Stallone might be looking to team up with Jackie Chan for an upcoming project to fill the void left by Expendables 4. In the meantime, fans can look forward to seeing him on May 5, when he makes his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.