Richard Donner: Lethal Weapon 5 is Dead. D-e-a-d. DEAD.

Well, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover may not quite be “too old for this shit”, but apparently that wasn’t the only reason why franchise star Mel Gibson might not do the fifth installment of the buddy cop series. According to Richard Donner, who directed all previous four “Lethal Weapon” films, the fifth movie is dead — likely because he, Donner, had been removed from the director’s chair in favor of original “Weapon” writer/creator Shane Black, which may or may not have caused Mel Gibson to walk away from the project completely. Or at least, that’s what Donner says, and according to this LA Times article, he’s kind of accurate. Kind of.

“Mel turned it down,” Donner said. “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.”

I checked with Gibson’s camp on Sunday night and while they were reluctant to make any official comment, I left the conversation with no doubt in my mind that Donner’s account is accurate. The 78-year-old filmmaker should have pretty good insight into Gibson; in addition to the four “Lethal” films, Donner directed Gibson in “Conspiracy Theory” and “Maverick” and until recently, the two were pursuing another collaboration, “Sam and George.” The pair have a famously mutual admiration society and why not?

So why exactly wasn’t Donner offered the director’s chair one more time? Apparently it’s all producer Joel Silver’s fault:

It was all frustrating for odd-man-out Donner, who with a separate team had come up with a sequel concept of their own. Donner, who had a falling out with Silver a few years ago, didn’t enjoy being excluded from a franchise that he considers his signature work.

“Joel Silver tried to ace me out of it. He tried to put it together but made sure he didn’t do it until my contract was up. You know, it’s typical of the man. A guy who wasn’t even around at the beginning when we started on the first one. He came in late.”

Donner went on: “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.”

Oh well. I’ve always said they shouldn’t do a fifth movie. Heck, I wasn’t all that pleased they did the fourth one, but it ended up … okay.

Let it go, Hollywood. Just put it down and walk away from the aging franchise … just walk away…

Below: “Seriously, Danny, not so close. We’re partners, yeah, but not THAT kind of partners…”