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At the cusp of a fifth decade of action-movie mayhem, Sylvester Stallone says his No. 1 opening with “The Expendables” ranks among his top career thrills. The muscle-bound multihyphenate chewed the fat with THR’s Carl DiOrio about the successful launch of the Lionsgate-distributed picture, which follows the exploits of a group of foreign mercenaries featuring some of the past decades’ biggest action stars.
THR: So “The Expendables” opened bigger than anything else you have directed. It seems you’re still setting personal bests.
Stallone: I didn’t do this all by myself. It was a movie about teamwork, and the team helped make it a success. I always say that if you are a star — even a faded star — the light never goes out. You just need to rekindle it.
THR: Have you written a script for a sequel to ‘The Expendables’?
Stallone: It’s plotted out in my mind’s eye. I believe this group has to continue to evolve; it just can’t become the same people. So how do you get new people introduced into the group, and how do you have some of the other people leaving? Those are the challenges.
THR: So the challenges remain, eh?
Stallone: My proudest moment ever was not “Rocky,” it was the last Rocky picture, “Rocky Balboa.” To be able to meet the challenge of completing that series after all these years, that was great. But this one here tops that — not in an emotional way but for excitement. This should have never happened. (Producer) Avi Lerner really took a big gamble on me with this when nobody else would. I know because I heard about it every day! He kept worrying about the reviews.
THR: ‘The Expendables’ was never going to be a critical darling.
Stallone: Most action films tend to rub people the wrong way. This is not to disparage critics, but the more physical and brutal an action film is, the least well it is received. It’s actually a barometer I use. That, and how many times I hurt myself.
THR: Things turned out well enough though.
Stallone: I never thought we would win this weekend, as we were up against some tough competition. I told Lionsgate and (CEO) Jon Feltheimer and Avi that I’m so grateful how those guys just dug in. Lionsgate hung tough and opened the purses. The campaign worked because it was honest. What you saw in the campaign was what you got. This movie is pure escapism. You just buckle up and enjoy a rocket ship ride down memory lane.
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