Over the weekend, a new Sylvester Stallone movie opened and nobody seemed to care. Not only did Bullet to the Head open well below its fresh competition, the emo zom-rom-com Warm Bodies, but it also placed after a number of older titles whose latest grosses were 50% drops compared to their takes from last week. Sure, Sly can do okay when surrounded by other pieces of nostalgia and younger models in the Expendables movies. As a stand-alone action star, however, he seems to be over.
A number of pieces have gone up today asking if this might be the end of not only Stallone's solo career but also that of one-time box office rival Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose recent would-be comeback The Last Stand also disappointed at the box office. You could even say the Hollywood icons chose fitting titles for these new films. Maybe one of them can lead a movie called "Put a Fork in It" next. Or, maybe they'll see this as reason to drag out their beloved or at least familiar titles for easy sequel success. Not that we weren't already getting a Twins sequel anyway.
As Sean O'Connell points out over at Cinema Blend, it's really more about the films themselves than the actors. Neither Bullet nor Last Stand looked that impressive, and the reviews didn't offer any evidence to the contrary. But we don't necessarily need to see Running Man 2 or Rocky 8 so much as we need promise of stellar action and at least pretty decent writing, particularly in the one-liner department (one of my biggest issues with Last Stand). Look at the new trailer for Fast & Furious 6. Nobody really wants another one of these movies, but the action in that spot last night is all anyone's talking about today. It could star Stallone or Schwarzenegger rather than Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson and be just as hot.
Both the Wrap and Hollywood.com are offering up younger names as replacements for the two elders. We don't need replacements. Those new guys can take on their own action roles regardless. Meanwhile, Stallone and Schwarzenegger just need to find better gigs. O'Connell makes another good point about why Bruce Willis isn't in the same sinking boat as his Planet Hollywood partners:
"You’d probably never catch Stallone or Schwarzenegger in a Wes Anderson comedy or a time-twisting thriller like Looper. By routinely shifting his approach, Willis keeps his fan base on its toes."
But why shouldn't we catch these two in more interesting gigs at this point in their careers? Sly is capable of both drama and quirk and could be a very likable supporting player -- I'd love to see him reunite with Woody Allen again, for instance. As for Arnie, well, there is a case to be made about Junior keeping us on our toes. But really he should go for some smart sci-fi thing, maybe not as the lead even. Maybe it's true they're no longer action-hero material, but they don't need to retire completely just yet.
Now, if only we could skip over the bland-sounding The Tomb, which execs are likely thinking will appeal simply on the gimmick of having both Schwarzenegger and Stallone in the same movie. It really is going to disappoint and usher in more of these articles questioning their worth. Until then...
Should Stallone and Schwarzenegger throw in the towel or do their careers have any gas left?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
Join the next discussion on Twitter by following Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic) and Movies.com (@Moviesdotcom).