“Cliffhanger” was a surprise to many. It seemed like little more than your standard action film starring Stallone, but the depth of the characters, the action, and the stakes elevated it into a movie worth watching. The movie was mostly filmed at the Dolomites in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, and it contains the costliest aerial stunt ever performed – a stuntman was paid a full million dollars to perform an aerial transfer, climbing between two planes at fifteen thousand feet above the ground.
It was the highest-grossing film the week of its release, and the total worldwide gross was over two hundred and fifty million dollars. It also spent eleven weeks at the top of the Japanese box office. Despite mostly positive reviews, the movie still got a couple of Razzie nominations.
A Series Going on Too Long
The "Rocky" series now contains a total of eight films, as long as we’re counting the spin-off "Creed" movies. Which we are. However, it seems Stallone never wanted the series to go so long – in fact, speaking with famous critic Roger Ebert in 1979 shortly before the release of “Rocky II,” Stallone revealed the original plan was to cap the series after the third installment. He even said, out loud, that “there will never be a “Rocky IV.” We all know how that turned out.
While filming “Rocky IV,” he told interviewers that there would never be a “Rocky V.” There would be. After every movie that has come out, Stallone has said that was that, but even now there are mutterings about another addition to the franchise.
Back into Fighting Form
By 1993, Stallone was in a bona fide slump. His last couple of films had been big flops. Even the latest installment of his most famous series, “Rocky V” got negative reviews. It made money, sure, but it was nothing like the success of any of the previous films. However, 1993 would give him a chance to return to form with a couple of different movies.
The first was the surprisingly good sports/action movie “Cliffhanger,” which pitted Stallone as a rock-climbing hero up against the villainous John Lithgow, who played a thief who was willing to do a great deal to steal a whole lot of money. The second film was the science-fiction action film “Demolition Man,” which has Stallone as a frozen cop, Wesley Snipes as a frozen criminal, and Sandra Bullock as a very warm female lead.
A Path of Destruction
In “Demolition Man,” the movie opens with Stallone’s character, a cop, chasing Snipes, leading to the deaths of numerous hostages. Both men are frozen until the year 2032, in which they are awoken to find the world very much changed. Snipes’s character is ready to go on a rampage, and it’s up to Stallone’s character to stop him while navigating the futuristic world he finds himself in.
There is a heavy allusion to works such as Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” as the new world has been so sterilized and scrubbed that the idea of a dangerous criminal like Snipes’s Simon Phoenix is unheard of. Despite mixed reviews, the film earned more than a hundred and fifty million, and has remained watchable ever since. High praise, we know.
The Hits Keep Coming
After a 1993 that saw Stallone find his place again, he was able to continue the momentum rolling into 1994. He co-starred with Sharon Stone in “The Specialist,” and despite the movie being a critical failure, it turned out to be a commercial success. In 1995 Stallone stepped into the uniform of Judge Dredd in the science fiction film of the same name.
The film had a budget of a whopping one hundred million, but it was just barely successful enough to, for a brief moment, make Stallone one of the highest-earning actors in the world. He signed a deal with Universal Pictures to produce three films for a total of sixty million dollars, making him only the second actor to earn twenty million per film, after Jim Carrey.