Last October, it was revealed that director Richard Donner, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover were working with Warner Bros. on Lethal Weapon 5. Lethal Weapon 4 screenwriter Channing Gibson (no relation) was said to be returning to pen the script. Now, Donner has given an update to the Maltin on Movies podcast (via JoBlo), revealing the Lethal Weapon 5 title, that it would be a really dark movie, but also mentioning that he now doesn’t think it’s going to happen.
“And I’m ready to do 5. It’s called Lethal Finale. It’s very dark. And we were all set to go and now Warner Bros. is doing their old-fashioned tricks. Not Warner Bros., there’s this guy who runs the studio who’s great but they have these people in the legal department who do the negotiating in the most counter-productive way. They should be sent to a studio and work with the producers and directors and actors, and learn what makes a film, and then negotiate. But it’s just embarrassing. And it’s too bad, because there’s a wonderful writer named Channing Gibson, who wrote 4 for me, and we have a really great story. It is dark, but I wanted to end it on an emotional note, and I don’t think it’s gonna happen. It’s heartbreaking.”
A fifth part in the series has had a long a troubled history, with Donner and Channing Gibson initially planning part 5 until Warner Bros. decided to cede control of the franchise to its longtime producer Joel Silver in 2007. Writer and series creator Shane Black was brought onboard by Silver to pen a script that would have found Riggs and Murtaugh battling Blackwater antiquity smugglers during a New York City blizzard. Black hoped to direct the film as well, but Gibson nixed the idea of doing a Lethal movie without Donner. Warner Bros. then tried to reboot the series, at one point courting Chris Hemsworth to take over the Riggs role from Gibson, with Justin Lin mooted to direct a script by Will Beall.
In 2016, the franchise made its way to the small screen, with the Lethal Weapon TV series starring Damon Wayans and Clayne Crawford currently in its second season on FOX. There is no word on how a new movie might affect the show, but if Warners’ DC properties have taught us anything, it’s that characters can exist in two iterations across platforms at the same time.
The original Lethal Weapon, written by Shane Black and directed by Richard Donner, opened in 1987 and was a smash hit. Lethal Weapon 2 opened in 1989 and introduced Joe Pesci’s Leo Getz con man sidekick character. 1993’s Lethal Weapon 3 brought onboard Riggs’ love interest Sergeant Lorna Cole (Rene Russo), and 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4 enrolled Detective Lee Butters (Chris Rock) as part of the family. Altogether, the four films grossed a combined $955.2 million worldwide.
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