Stallone was so confident in Rambo III that he turned down a MASSIVE payday for IV
Sylvester Stallone explains why he turned down a big payday to return for Rambo IV just before the controversial Rambo III was released in 1988.
Stallone explained to THR how the Rambo sequel's epic scale and Cold War backdrop were supposed to make it the franchise's biggest entry. However, when Carolco Pictures pushed for Rambo IV to be made immediately after, the star declined their enticing offer.
"We were working on Rambo III. We predicted it would be the biggest hit before it was released. And I got paid a lot of money for it "Stallone admitted. "'We want Rambo IV,' they say. Here it is 34, pay or play.' 'Let's not get ahead of ourselves here,' I say." Rambo III was made on a reported budget of $58 to $63 million, making it the most expensive film made at the time.
Stallone received an upfront salary of $16 million as the highest-paid actor of the 1980s, and he kicks himself today knowing he could have made twice as much had he agreed to Rambo IV. "Oh, what a moron," Stallone continued. "Now that I think about it... wow."
Based on David Morrell's 1972 novel, 1982's First Blood introduced audiences to Stallone's PTSD-ridden John Rambo, who is forced to flee the law in rural Washington after the abrupt escalation of a minor misunderstanding. The film was a critical and commercial success, demonstrating that Stallone could play more than just Rocky Balboa. Rambo III, set against the backdrop of the Soviet-Afghan conflict, saw the Vietnam veteran travel to Afghanistan.
The real-life crisis had subsided by the time the film was released in the summer of 1988, rendering Rambo III's story irrelevant, and it underperformed at the box office. Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, audiences questioned whether Rambo had actually aligned himself with Osama Bin Laden's Afghan resistance group. Stallone would return to the jungle 20 years later in the Lionsgate-produced Rambo in 2008. Following that was 2019's Rambo: Last Blood, which was panned by critics and creator Colin Morrell. Regardless, Stallone has expressed interest in a Rambo prequel that would delve into the character's Vietnam origins.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter