The Expendables 3 was not a big hit. Despite packing in even more all-star action heroes, the film topped out at just $35 million (down from over $100 million for the original). But, the Expendables franchise is still popular overseas and, as we’ve seen recently with Pacific Rim and Terminator Genisys, sometimes that’s enough to keep sequel hopes alive. To keep The Expendables going, Lionsgate has pacted with SSXH Beijing for investment in The Expendables 4, which is now planned to go into production in 2016 for a release some time in 2017.

At this point, no talent is involved and Sylvester Stallone hasn’t committed in the past to returning for another film, though it’s hard to imagine an Expendables movie without Stallone, who wrote, directed and starred in the original.

Previously, Stallone spoke out about his disappointment with The Expendables 3 saying that it underperformed because it was rated PG-13, down from the R-rating of the first two successful films. “I believe it was a horrible miscalculation on everyone’s part in trying to reach a wider audience,” he said. Interesting that now, the deal that is keeping The Expendables alive, is a deal that would reach a wider audience, with a distribution deal in China already set.

While Stallone hasn’t committed to any future Expendables movies, he hasn’t ruled them out either. After the third film opened in theaters, he said he had some ideas for an Expendables 4 that would include genre-hopping, potentially making another sequel rooted in sci-fi. (To be fair, Stallone has said the same thing about another Rambo sequel, and that has never happened.)

With no writer or director in place, Lionsgate will have to move quickly on Expendables 4 if they’re looking to keep this ambitious timeline.

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