ByKarly Rayner, writer at
Movie Pilot's celebrity savant
Karly Rayner

They don't call him 'Sly Stallone' for nothing! the Expendables franchise might be dripping with violence but, there are also serious battles raging behind the scenes.

has been taking a legal beating from writers who claim their work was robbed from them. The star is listed as the co-writer of The Expendables but, not everyone seems to agree just how much input he actually had when it comes to creating the script.

Stallone lets out his mighty battle cry

Writer, has accused Stallone for heavily borrowing from his previously unpublished script for Barrow, that is also coincidentally about mercenaries. Callaham eventually won a WGA arbitration process and was rewarded with 'co-writer' and 'story by' credits along with $102,250 but, that soon backfired. Callaham was given 'separate rights' on the project which meant he was entitled to payment from all sequels and, Nu Image's executive was not best pleased with his cash cow being milked by someone who, in his eyes, had made a dubious claim. Lerner sued Callaham for fraud and claimed they had uncovered old emails from the writer where he admits that the Expendables script is "nothing like" what he originally wrote.

While this legal battle is ongoing, Lerner is aiming to have Callaham stripped of his credits putting Stallone firmly on the throne of the profitable franchise.

Writer, Dave Callaham

As if all that wasn't complicated enough, another writer is claiming it was in fact him that gave birth to The Expendables. In 2011 Marcus Webb sued Stallone, Nu Image and Callaham claiming that they had stolen his script for The Cordoba Caper.

Stallones lawyers were clearly a bit muddled from the barrage of legal missiles being directed at the star because this is when he started to wildly contradict himself in court. Whilst battling Webb, Stallone offered a sworn declaration that described how he liked Barrow and maintained its structure while writing a new version. The star said;

In those rewrites, I kept Callaham's story about a group of highly trained mercenaries overthrowing the dictator of a Latin America island

The problem was that Stallone had previously tried to sweep Callaham's achievements under the rug but, they were now crediting him with providing the storyline again. Judge Jed Rakoff pointed out the glaring inconsistency by saying;

The admission smacks more than a little of hypocrisy. Stallone previously asserted in a signed letter submitted in his [WGA arbitration] that although he read Barrow, he 'set it aside' and that Expendables was 'an original … and doesn't use one word, one comma, one iota from [Barrow]

Oops... Not such a sly slip up there, Stallone.

Webb lost his legal battle but, Stallone's slip up gave him the ammunition he needed to take on Nu Image once more. Webb's attorneys are now making sure the judges take into account that producers simultaneously presented proof that Expendables was and, wasn't based on Callaham's script.

While he probably won't win the case, this legal limbo has left the future of what has the potential to be a billion-dollar franchise unsettled.

What do you think of this mess? Do you think either of the writers are in the right or are they exploiting Stallone for financial gain? Whereas I absolutely love The Expandables and am gagging for The Expendables 3, I can't see why a writer would be so desperate to lay claim to writing the scripts!

(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)

(Images:Scene Louisiana, The Guardian, Zimbio via Getty and Giphy)



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