Sylvester Stallone Hypocritically Tries to Shame Bruce Willis Via Twitter


Bruce Willis is out of The Expendables 3, apparently over a contract dispute.  The odd thing about it is that Sylvester Stallone, the writer, producer and star of the franchise seemed to take it personally and went to Twitter in an attempt to publicly shame WillisStallone’s first Twitter response: “WILLIS OUT . . . HARRISON FORD IN!!!! GREAT NEWS!!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!,”.  I’m not sure what the comma splice was for at the end as there were several exclamation marks which I assumed closed the sentence, but perhaps it was placed there in order to create anticipation for the follow-up Tweet which read: “GREEDY AND LAZY . . . A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE.”  We can, I think, safely assume that Stallone was aiming this at Willis, but it seems like an unfair assessment of Willis, and rather, an accurate assessment of Stallone himself.  Let’s break it down.

Sylvester Stallone

Sylvester Stallone

Typically in Hollywood, when there is a big budget film, those are the films that the A-listers expect to actually get paid on.  Bruce Willis is known for taking pay cuts or agreeing to a percentage of the profits (meaning he doesn’t make money unless the movie makes money), such as he did with Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense, as well as other independently made films like Grind House and Moonrise Kingdom.  These are the films the actors want to make and are willing to take a pay cut because they realize the studios aren’t putting a lot of money into the projects.  The stars want to help facilitate the projects as best they can because they believe in the artistic merit of the films.  When big-budget films like Armageddon, Live Free or Die Hard, and The Fifth Element come along, the actors generally expect to get paid.  An actor like Willis demands a fair amount of money because he is a box office draw (the Die Hard films have brought in over a billion dollars and Armageddon made over 500 million, whilst Willis ranks as the 6th highest grossing actor of all time).  At the end of the day, Willis has commanded as much as 20 million dollars per movie up front, but he has, on a number of occasions, taken drastic pay cuts to participate in films he believed in.




A promotional poster from 'The Expendables'.

A promotional poster from ‘The Expendables’.

The Expendables franchise is NOT an art-house franchise.  It is a block-buster franchise.  Willis took big pay cuts to appear in the first two, and Stallone had no issue with that.  As a producer, Stallone was making far more money than any of the other actors involved (deservedly so since he was also a co-writer and producer who was putting up his own money).  The first two installments of the franchise have not only brought in over 574 million dollars, but have helped to rejuvenate Stallone’s career (which had been hanging on a string since the mid-90’s).  Considering that the two films only cost a combined 182 million, we can assume a profit of almost 400 million dollars.  This is not a movie franchise that is hard up for money.  Taking into consideration that Willis was willing to lend his name to the first two movies at a discounted rate, it seems fair that he would expect a healthy pay cheque for the most recent installment.  Stallone refused the 4 million dollar request and opted to bring in Harrison Ford who, for those of you who haven’t seen Cowboys and Aliens, has apparently forgotten how to act.  Considering that Willis’s networth is reportedly 150 million dollars, whilst Stallone’s is around 275 million dollars, it seems that Stallone calling Willis “greedy and lazy” is not only inaccurate and harsh, but hypocritical as well.  It is also bad business practices.  Who wants a boss that is going to try and publicly shame you when wage negotiations don’t go the way he wants them to go.  Will any actor want to work on a Stallone production when he’s going to go on Twitter and publicly shame you because he doesn’t think you are worth as much as you think you are?


The Sixth Sense grossed almost three times as much as the highest grossing Stallone film.

The Sixth Sense grossed almost three times as much as the highest grossing Stallone film.

Perhaps Stallone doesn’t realize this, but Willis is likely the only cast member on The Expendables who doesn’t have to go out looking for work.  Willis is doing Stallone a favour, not the other around.  Whilst Stallone was making Get Carter (which bombed at the box office), Willis was making The Sixth Sense (which grossed almost 700 million dollars).  When Stallone was making Copland (another box office dud), Willis starred in Armageddon (which grossed over 500 million dollars), and while Stallone was making Judge Dredd and Assassins, Willis was starring in the highest grossing film of the year: Die Hard With A Vengeance (which almost doubled what Judge Dredd and Assassins made combined).  Willis is not the one who needs career advice.  Even a Willis dud far out performs a Stallone dud.  Case and point: RED 2 has had a meager showing at the box office but pulled in 45 million dollars so far, compared to Stallone’s most recent dud: Bullet to the Head failed to crack the 10 million dollar mark.  As for calling Willis lazy, Stallone has made almost 30 fewer films than Willis, despite having a ten-year head start on him.  Willis has also not relied on franchises that grow stale to pad his resume (Rocky and Rambo are franchises that have been dead for decades, yet Stallone continues to re-hash his former successes with the hope of repeating his glory days and in the process ruined a great move—Rocky—with the hopes of turning a buck with sequels).  Instead, Willis has gotten involved with art-house films early in his career with films like Pulp Fiction and has continued to do so throughout his career.


Stallone traded the legacy of a great film ('Rocky', above) for a few pay cheques.

Stallone traded the legacy of a great film (‘Rocky’, above) for a few pay cheques.

Stallone has had an amazing career himself, granted.  He has written some clever screenplays (The Expendables and First Blood), and even a great screenplay (Rocky), but he has also written clichéd drivel (Rocky II-LXIX, Rambo II-XXIX).  Rocky would have went down as one of the greatest boxing movies of all time, but the sequels ruined the reputation of the first film with their campy, clichéd happy endings.  Willis is not a writer, but he is an actor and he has chosen a number of quality projects.  Expecting a healthy pay cheque for work on a big-budget blocker buster is not an unreasonable request, especially when the franchise has already profited almost 400 million dollars.  Stallone’s Twitter rant seems childish and immature, and also rather greedy.  If Willis thinks that he is worth 4 million and Stallone doesn’t, Stallone should have just accepted that there was a difference of opinion and moved on, respecting the work Willis has already done for him.  Instead, he decided to act like a child of 12 and shame Willis publicly while exposing himself to be the one who was at fault.   What actor would want to work with a guy like that?


Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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