You can thank China for this one! The Expendables 4 is officially happening. It will shoot in 2016, and arrive in theaters in 2017. At this time, no cast members have been confirmed, aside from franchise creator Sylvester Stallone. No director is in place yet.
Nu Image / Millennium have struck a deal with China that also includes the thriller Security. This follows deals made between China and Steven Paul's SP International Pictures on behalf of SSXH Beijing, as well as Max Screen Film Distribution. The deal between the country and Nu Image / Millennium covers equity investments in both movies. And it will provide Chinese distribution rights.
Both Security and The Expendables 4 will likely use China for on-location shooting, with scenes taking place in the country. But China is not expected to be such a big part of either movie's narrative that that they can be outright called Chinese co-productions. The majority of Security will be shot in Bulgaria.
Security is an action thriller that follows a security guard tasked with protecting a woman who is being targeted by a gang for participating as a trial witness. It is currently shooting under the Nu Image banner and stars Antonio Banderas and Ben Kingsley. Alain Desrochers, best known for his action thriller Nitro, will direct. It is budgeted at a respectable $15 million.
While Sylvester Stallone has not selected and confirmed his cast for The Expendables 4, the film will maintain the all-star action formula it is known for, while bringing in some fresh talent. Some expect that Steven Seagal and Michael Dudikoff may finally come aboard, with Nicolas Cage and Clint Eastwood also rumored in the past. Hulk Hogan has been pegged as the villain, but that has never been confirmed. The sequel is budgeted at over $100 million.
The China deal for both movies is in excess of $25 million. The deal was negotiated by Avi Lerner, Trevor Short and Jeffrey Greenstein for Nu Image and Steven Paul and SPIP on behalf of SSXH and Max Screen Beijing. Dr. Shi Jianxiang, chairman of Shanghai Kuailu Investment Group, which owns SSXH and Max Screen, and Steven Paul are being credited as executive producers on both pictures. Dr. Shi was part of Chinese president Xi Jinping's recent delegation to the U.S.
With three films and counting, The Expendables franchise has become one of the most successful independent productions to flourish in the Chinese market.The Expendables 3 only made $39.2 million in the States when it was released in 2014, with many believing a leak of the film prior to its official release caused the film to tank domestically. In China, it was a hit, pulling in $78 million at the box office. Steven Paul had this to say about the China deal.
"What seems to work in their favor in China, is that these movies are good old-fashioned shoot 'em up entertainment."
SP International Pictures, which has a distribution deal with Sony, has become one of Hollywood's most active independent companies in China. Are you excited to see that The Expendables franchise will continue to hum along with The Expendables 4? And who do you hope to see enter the fray this time around? Sound off in the comments below!