Mel Gibson Passes on Lethal Weapon 5

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.

Back in August it was reported that Shane Black had handed in a detailed treatment to Joel Silver for a Lethal Weapon 5, which he hopes to direct. When Black signed on to helm Cold Warrior for Universal, we assumed that the project fell into development hell. Not so, turned out that the sequel was just waiting on Mel Gibson‘s approval.

Now IGN has talked with Columbus Short, who was at one point rumored to be involved with the project. Short not only confirmed that is he up for a role, but claims the film is being fast tracked into production by Warner Bros. No word on if Gibson has seen Black’s treatment or given his thumbs up to go ahead, but it certainly sounds like it. Rumor has it that Short would play Murtaugh’s son.

The Die Hard series may have overshadowed the Lethal Weapon franchise for some filmgoers, but the original Donner films still stand up to the test of time. And with Black back for a new take on the series, which will supposedly involve the addition/introduction of a new generation of cops and Riggs and Murtaugh coming out of retirement for one last case, I can’t see what’s not to be excited about.

Lethal Weapon 5 Waits on Mel Gibson’s Approval

In August it was revealed that Shane Black was working on a screenplay for Lethal Weapon 5. When news hit earlier this week that Black had signed on to direct Cold Warrior for Universal, we assumed that the momentum for a new Lethal Weapon film had died. Entertainment Weekly reveals that producer Joel Silver is waiting on series star Mel Gibson‘s approval of Black’s treatment for the fifth film. Apparently, the story introduces a new pair of young NYPD police officers, and Silver needs Gibson’s approval before moving forward. And Black still intends to direct the fifth film in the series.


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UPDATE: The same industry website has clarified the original story, saying…

**We are now hearing that Shane Black may have only handed in a detailed treatment to Joel Silver and that they are taking two old scripts and mashing them together to make LETHAL WEAPON 5… Also hearing that Silver is after Columbus Short for a role**

Right now, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover are rolling around in separate beds half-asleep mumbling, “We’re too old for this shit.” Let’s hope their co-stars Chris Rock, Joe Pesci and Jet Li are mumbling the exact same sentence tomorrow when they’re fully awake. It’s being reported by TrackingB that legendary screenwriter, Shane Black, has written a script for Lethal Weapon 5 and handed it over to his friend, the franchise’s producer Joel Silver. Moreover, the guys pictured above are said to be interested in reprising their roles as LAPD badges Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh. Coming Soon posted the following logline…

This time, homicidal Riggs (Mel Gibson) is about to retire, but pulls Murtaugh (Danny Glover) out of retirement to solve one final case, before they both officially head off into the sunset.

No further info was made available. Some readers will take issue with the adjective “legendary” used above but seeing that Black’s influence on the action genre, which dates back to 1987’s Lethal Weapon, remains obvious with this weekend’s Pineapple Express, why? From my standpoint, Seth Rogen’s pot vehicle would have been the action-comedy masterpiece some feel it is (CHUD says Oscar-bait no less!?) with Black’s involvement. For example: imagine memorable, superior one-liners rather than Axl Rose lyrics yelled mid-brawl in 2008. A bloodied Danny McBride meets The Last Boy Scout? Now, that’s a neverending breakfast conversation I’d pay to see three times.

The fourth Lethal Weapon film was released 10 years ago and managed to gross $128 million domestically. One could forsee Richard Donner returning as the director, since he helmed the prior four pictures and has a film on the burner entitled Sam and George with Gibson.

Discuss: Would you see a fifth Lethal Weapon with the original team? Either way, do you expect Shane Black’s involvement to make for a better sequel than Live Free or Die Hard, or Beverly Hills Cop: Ratner Vision?

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