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Cliffhanger (1993) Poster

(1993)

Trivia

Set in Colorado, but filmed in the Cortina d'Ampezzo-Dolomites mountains, because of their spectacular similarities to the Colorado Rockies. The production paid eighty million Lire to enter all mountain areas.
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The film is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the costliest aerial stunt ever performed. Stuntman Simon Crane was paid one million dollars to cross once between two planes at fifteen thousand feet, without the aid of any safety devices or trick photography. The insurance company refused to insure a stuntman for this, so Sylvester Stallone offered to reduce his own fee for the movie by the amount that the stunt cost to produce, in order that the film could be made.
Sneak-preview audiences saw a scene where a rabbit gets killed by gunfire. Their reaction was strong enough for Sylvester Stallone to invest one hundred thousand dollars of his own money to have the scene re-shot, so that the rabbit escaped.
Dedicated to "Wolfgang Gullich", Sylvester Stallone's double in the film, who was killed in a car accident shortly after filming had finished.
The plane-to-plane airborne transfer stunt was filmed in the U.S., since such a stunt is illegal in Europe. The stunt itself cost over one million dollars to film.
To demonstrate his faith in the safety equipment, Director Renny Harlin put on a harness and flung himself out on a cable over a cliff.
The late Wolfgang Güllich, widely regarded as one of the most skillful, daring and popular rock-climbers of all time, performed as a climbing double of Sylvester Stallone.
During one climbing scene, Renny Harlin complained that the safety lines were visible, so the stuntman performed the climbing without any safety lines.
The credits include a message which explains that the Black Diamond harness used in the opening scene was specially modified so that it would fail.
Sylvester Stallone partly took on this project in an effort to help him conquer his fear of heights.
Electrical storms hit during filming, knocking down five crew members. Climber Earl Wiggins was hit three times, but was only slightly injured. During a later storm, crew members had fun taking pictures of each other with their hair standing on end while the climbers pointed out the wisdom of evacuating.
Simon Crane, the stuntman who did the air-to-air transfer, actually couldn't get inside the second plane, but good editing gives the appearance that he does.
Ron Kauk was Sylvester Stallone's stunt double, and really had to bulk up. He ate five carbohydrate-heavy meals a day, and pumped a lot of iron. The trainer wanted to have him eat a sixth meal in the middle of the night. Kauk also doubled for Leon and Janine Turner.
Carolco had originally signed Sylvester Stallone to appear opposite John Candy in a comedy directed by John Hughes about feuding neighbors titled Bartholomew Vs. Neff.

When that project was dropped, Stallone got involved in another Carolco project Isobar, a sci-fi futuristic horror about genetically created monster who gets loose on high speed runaway train. Movie was gonna have $90 million budget and Roland Emmerich was hired to direct the film, but due to arguments he had with Carolco and producer Joel Silver about the script and control over the film, he walked away from Isobar and it ended up getting cancelled.

While Emmerich went on to make Universal Soldier (1992) for Carolco, Stallone was first signed on to make another film with Renny Harlin for them, an action thriller/disaster film Gale Force which would have Stallone's character fighting modern pirates during large hurricane, but once that film got cancelled as well, he and Harlin went on to make Cliffhanger for Carolco.
The movie's most breathtaking scenes were shot in the Cortina d'Ampezzo Dolomites mountains. The bridge scene was shot on Monte Cristallo, ferrata Ivano Dibona. The crew stayed in Cortina more than three months. Further filming took place in Durango, Colorado. The credits of the film also thank the Ute Tribe for filming in the Ute Mountain reservation.
Christopher Walken was originally cast as Qualen, but left the production before filming began, so John Lithgow was cast at the last minute.
The stuffed puppy that falls off the cliff in the opening scene was not scripted, but was added at the last minute. Renny Harlin liked the dog so much, he bought it so that the audience would have a clear idea of what would happen, and how horrific the fall was.
Tri-Star Pictures and Carolco Pictures were forced to pay out an additional seven hundred fifty thousand dollars to three separate writers, who were all claiming credit for the story.
In the original cut, shown to test audiences, there was a forty-foot jump from one cliff to another that Gabriel Walker (Sylvester Stallone) performs. This scene appears in the theatrical trailers to the film. It was cut because test audiences laughed out loud when they saw it, and thought it was totally impossible. The clip of the jump was redone and used for a shorter jump off a cliff near the end of the film, using computer graphics and special effects.
The two-story high cliff built for the climactic battle sequence burned to the ground completely in eight minutes, when the miniature helicopter explosion got out of control. The heat of the fire was so intense, it melted one of the cameras.
Sylvester Stallone and Renny Harlin were originally going to make a film titled "Gale Force" for Carolco Pictures. The script for the film had the main character, an ex-Navy S.E.A.L., fighting a group of modern pirates and thieves in a coastal town during a large hurricane. Despite working on it from 1989 until 1991, Carolco deemed the project too expensive to produce (after investing over four million dollars in script re-writes, plus the original script) and because the planned visual effects effects for it proved to be too difficult at the time, the plug on the project was pulled. Stallone and Harlin then decided to make this movie instead, although Harlin was already paid three million dollars for directing Gale Force, he didn't have to return the money. Surprisingly enough, Carolco estimated that the budget for Gale Force would be around forty million dollars, and the final budget for this movie, turned out to be seventy million dollars.
Renny Harlin initially turned down the opportunity to direct, as he "didn't want to make another Die Hard 2 (1990)".
In the cave of bats scene, the "bats" seen on-screen, were added in post-production as a visual effect. Real bats were brought in to fill the cave, but Sylvester Stallone and Janine Turner were too afraid to shoot the scene with live bats.
The parachute that the base-jumper opens, on his escape from the villains, features the design of the Finnish flag, Renny Harlin's native country (he features the Finnish flag in most of his movies).
TriStar Pictures and Carolco Pictures planned a sequel in 1994, called "The Dam", which was described as "Die Hard in a dam", and would have Sylvester Stallone's character from this movie fighting terrorists, who took over Hoover Dam, but it never went beyond the developmental stage. Stallone tried to resurrect the project again in 2008, but it never happened.
The Denver Mint, featured in the film as the producer of the cash stolen by Qualen and his associates, actually only produces coins. One hundred million dollars from the Denver Mint would weigh two thousand five hundred tons.
After Michael France sold the "Cliffhanger" script to Carolco Pictures for five hundred thousand dollars, the company was visited by two independent producers, Gene Patrick Hines and James R. Zatolokin, who provided proof that France was not the originator of the story. It turned out the idea had been first developed in the 1980s by Hines and a world-famous climber and author John Long. Carolco agreed to pay Hines and Zatolokin a producers' fee of four hundred thousand dollars, and gave them co-producing credit. John Long received a "Based on a premise by..." credit.
Thirty-one well-known climbers were signed up, including Ron Kauk and Wolfgang Güllich. Güllich performed many of the film's stunts.
An avid golfer, Sylvester Stallone found that climbing roughed up his hands and consequently messed up his game. He had a net on the set for practice. The models he was dating complained about his rough hands.
During casting for the film in the summer of 1992, Leon impressed the casting agents so much, he was immediately cast as Kynette.
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Sylvester Stallone played Rambo, in the film franchise of the same name. In the novelization of this film, Stallone's character is referred to as "Rambo on ice".
One of the buckles on the horse's bridle is a piece of climbing equipment.
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The film has been criticized for its unrealistic portrayal of rock climbing. One example is the feature of the bolt-gun which fires bolts directly into rock, forgoing the usual rock-drilling and bolt-hammering used in rock-climbing. This ignores certain material properties of rock that should cause the bolt-gun's impact site to shatter and explode with flaky projectiles. The bolt gun is considered the most serious of the film's technical inaccuracies. Further examples are showing athletic moves, which have no use in real climbing, or free soloing with, then also completely useless gear.
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Renny Harlin's first choice to play Qualen, was David Bowie.
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Roxy Music lead singer Bryan Ferry was briefly considered for the role of Qualen.
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The March 30, 1992 shooting draft, also lists Terry Hayes as one of the Screenwriters.
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Dana Delany was offered the role of Jessie Deighan.
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During the fight scene in the cave, Kynette (Leon) pulls out a very long knife with a serrated back edge reminiscent of the style made famous by Rambo. Sylvester Stallone played Rambo.
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Rex Linn (Travers) appeared in episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996) and Northern Exposure (1990), which starred his co-stars in this movie, John Lithgow (Qualen) and Janine Turner (Jessie), respectively.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In the opening scene where Sarah slips from Gabe's hand had to be done several times, because Sarah's glove would not slip off as desired. In order to get it to slide off, Renny Harlin had her wear a glove that was a couple of sizes too big, and filled the glove with Vaseline, and even then Sylvester Stallone's grip was too tight, and the glove almost stayed on.
Body count: seventeen.
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