There’s a good reason why Sylvester Stallone not so subtly hinted that Bruce Willis was “greedy” and “lazy” for dropping out of The Expendables 3: the latter’s $1 million-a-day fee for an extended cameo was outrageous.

A source close to the matter tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Rocky star, who created the aging action heroes franchise, was none too pleased that the Die Hard actor refused producers’ offer of $3 million for four consecutive days of work on location in Bulgaria for the latest sequel.

“He said he’d drop out unless he got $4 million,” the insider told the trade. “A million dollars a day. Stallone and everybody else involved said no.”

With some gusto, Stallone revealed that he had signed another actor to replace Willis in the forthcoming sequel. “WILLIS OUT … HARRISON FORD IN!!!!”, he wrote on Twitter. “GREAT NEWS!!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!” His next tweet has been widely cited as a reference to Willis’s departure as Mr Church: “GREEDY AND LAZY … A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE.”

Ford will join fellow newcomers Jackie Chan and Nicolas Cage as Stallone’s musclebound crew of mercenaries-for-hire embark on a new mission in The Expendables 3. Sly himself returns as team leader Barney Ross, while past instalments have seen action legends such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren battle it out on the big screen. It is not clear whether Ford will replace Willis as Mr Church or will be handed a new role.

They are action-hero veterans and business partners who once joined forces to flog burgers through their Planet Hollywood chain.

But now Sylvester Stallone has branded his fellow ageing film star Bruce Willis lazy and a failure, after the Die Hard actor departed from the lucrative Expendables franchise.