EXCLUSIVE: Producer Neal Moritz and StudioCanal are ready to move forward with Cliffhanger, a re-imagining of the 1993 Renny Harlin-directed mountain climbing film that starred Sylvester Stallone. They’ve set Joe Gazzam to write the screenplay after he was among a group of screenwriters who pitched their take on a movie that still holds up as a guilty pleasure. The original was made by Carolco before that company crashed, and TriStar distributed it. StudioCanal ended up with the rights. There is no domestic distributor in place, but since Moritz’s Original Pictures is Sony-based, that studio should get a first crack at the project. Sony already has a mountain climbing project in Everest, the Doug Liman-directed film that has Tom Hardy attached to play Sir Edward Mallory, the British mountaineer who tried to be first to summit the world’s highest mountain. Cross Creek, Walden and Universal financed another film called Everest, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Jason Clarke and John Hawkes starring in the Baltasar Kormakur-directed film about a disastrous attempt to summit the mountain in 1996 when the climbers were hit by a blizzard.
The original Cliffhanger revolved around a traumatized mountain climber forced back into an expedition after a plane crash leaves a lot of stolen cash and bad guys strewn on the Rocky Mountains. Moritz and Ori Marmur will produce for Original, and StudioCanal’s Ronald Halpern is in the middle of the whole thing too. Gazzam was in the right place at the right time. He has been working with Original on his spec Shadow Run, which Sony bought as a spec several months ago and is fast tracking the project and looking for a director. When Gazzam pitched a Cliffhanger take that sparked Moritz, he got a job a lot of writers wanted. Gazzam is repped by Paradigm and Industry Entertainment.