Sylvester Stallone Turned Down Franchise Sequel Despite Being Offered $35 Million
Sylvester Stallone will always be known for his roles as Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, but despite returning as the characters in multiple sequels, it seems that the actor turned down one massive payday to appear in Rambo IV. Although Stallone would eventually return to the franchise two decades after 1988’s Rambo III, it seems that he was offered a considerable sum to reprise the role immediately.
The Rambo franchise has now totaled five movies, with a prequel series also being discussed, but according to Stallone in his lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter, there could have been a sixth movie that almost happened just after Rambo III. However, while the actor was offered a lot of money, he turned it down. He said:
“I turned down 34 [million]. We were doing Rambo III. We thought it was going to be the biggest hit — this was before it came out. And I was paid a fortune for it. Then they go, “We want Rambo IV. Here it is: Pay or play, 34.” I go, “Let’s not jump the gun here …”
As it turned out, Rambo III underperformed at the box office, taking a worldwide total of $189 million on the back of its whopping $65 million budget. While the numbers don’t seem bad, when compared to Rambo: First Blood Part II’s $300 million haul with a $25 budget, it is clear to see that diminishing returns could have spelled disaster if Stallone had agreed to Rambo IV at the time. As it was, the franchise didn’t fare any better at the box office when it returned with Rambo in 2008 and Rambo: Last Blood in 2019, which only pulled in $113 and $91, respectively.
Will Rambo Return Again?
According to Stallone, the Rambo prequel that has been rumored for some time is still “going to happen” and would likely find itself a home on Lionsgate+, with Lionsgate having produced the last two movies. While there has been little movement on the project recently, Stallone seems confident that it will come but is unclear whether it will see the veteran passing the torch to a new generation or see what caused the Vietnam vet to become the man he did. He said:
“I think it’s going to happen. I wanted to do it like a Ken Burns documentary on Vietnam, where you drop young Rambo in there and he’s this outgoing guy, football captain, and then you see why he becomes Rambo. But what they want to do is a modern-day story where I pass the torch. That’s getting close.”
Either way, it seems that we haven’t seen the last of John Rambo, but with Stallone having spent the last few years closing himself out of some of his most prominent roles, if he does play the character in some capacity again, it will probably be for the last time. Having not exactly set the box office on fire with his previous two outings, a TV spin-off could definitely be the right way to go to allow him to see the character out on a high.