Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables franchise could be headed to TV in the near future, thus raising questions regarding its potential for success on the small screen. Though the three movies were hit-and-miss at the box office, the trilogy was considered profitable in the long run. But, this on its own isn’t enough to prove that The Expendables would be equally successful as a network or streaming show.
A TV series based on The Expendables isn’t officially in the pipeline, but for the time being, it’s thought to be a real possibility for the franchise’s future. These discussions have been happening as far as back as 2012, but they’ve yet to actually go anywhere. But apparently, the idea is still on the table. As recently as November 2021, Millennium Media president Jeffrey Greenstein listed The Expendables as one of the IP the studio was interested in exploring as a TV series. That too may end up fizzling out, but the franchise being rejuvenated with a fourth installment in 2023 does at least increase the chances of the studio moving forward with an Expendables TV series.
Why The Expendables TV Show Is Doomed
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The concept of an elite team of soldiers embarking on high-risk missions for the government is something that could certainly be translated to a TV format, but making it a hit would be whole other challenge. Story-wise, it can work as a show, but fundamentally, what drives the popularity of The Expendables is the cast and the action. The prospect of seeing actors like Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chuck Norris teaming up is a huge part of what drives people to the theaters. Bringing all of these stars together for one film is obviously a massive undertaking for any Hollywood movie, and one that would be even harder to pull off for a TV show, which would naturally suffer from a much smaller budget.
With less money than what a big-screen Expendables story would benefit from, a TV version most likely wouldn’t be able to bring in a gathering of big-name action stars of the same caliber as what the movies have offered. There are some that could be willing to accept TV roles, but it’s hard to imagine it equaling what the movies created. The same can be said for the films’ high-octane action, as this is a must for any Expendables installment. The plot has never been what keeps viewers engaged, so intense action sequences that are consistent throughout the show would have to be a priority. Satisfying that interest would be difficult because of the strain it would put on the budget.
If The Expendables TV Show Were To Succeed, Now Is The Time
If the studio is prepared to take this risk with an Expendables show, there may not be a better time than now to launch the series. After all, these conversations about The Expendables’ potential as a TV series are coming at a time when big-budget shows are starting to become the norm. Streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon are seemingly sparing no expense in their efforts to deliver shows that almost resemble movies in terms of their SFX. If The Expendables show has any hopes of working, the studio would need to muster the financial resources needed not only for the explosions and all the gunplay, but also for putting together an impressive cast of action heroes.