Last we heard, Joel Silver was waiting on Mel Gibson to approve Shane Black‘s treatment for Lethal Weapon 5. Now word comes from original series director Richard Donner (via: the Los Angeles Times) that Gibson turned down the idea and the project is dead.
“Mel turned it down. I would like to think that Mel turned it down because I wasn’t involved. Knowing Mel, I would like to think that. Would that be the kind of thing he does? It sure would be,” Donner said. “It’s too bad, actually, because Channing Gibson, who wrote the fourth one, and Mike Riva, a designer on three of them, and myself and Derek [Hoffman, an associate at The Donner Company] had an incredibly strong story for the fifth movie. But we weren’t given the opportunity and I think maybe I could have convinced Mel to do it. But Warners chose to go with Joel Silver.”
And if that leaves any room for speculation, Donner concluded “Yes, the project is pretty much dead in the water unless someone had the sense to come to me.” I was a big Donner fan back in the 80′s, especially after Superman, but I would really like to see what Black has up his sleeve. Besides having written the original Lethal Weapon screenplay, Black made a huge splash with his 2005 directorial debut Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (which was one of my favorite films of that year). I have faith that Black’s film would be so much more than the last couple sequels in the series. It’s too bad that Warner Bros can’t get Donner on board as a producer, which to me sounds like the only possible resolution.