Just what is it that Arnold Schwarzenegger is pondering? Could it be the demise of the traditional sequel-heavy summer-movie season? That’s right, aside from second helpings of three comedies (Hot Shots!, Stakeout, and Weekend at Bernie’s) and yet another ”final” visit from Jason, your local multiplex will be 100 percent sequel-free. But don’t be fooled into thinking Hollywood is coming up with original ideas. Do any of these blockbuster wannabes sound familiar? Sharon Stone in an erotic thriller? Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in megabuck action movies? Clint Eastwood as a maverick lawman? A special-effects-driven adventure from Steven Spielberg? As for comedy, how about a big-screen version of a Saturday Night Live sketch, Meg Ryan in a Nora Ephron-penned romance, and Whoopi Goldberg’s third annual early-summer farce?
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Janine Turner, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker. Directed by Renny Harlin.
The good news for Turner, making her starring film debut in this action- adventure, was that she got to kiss Stallone. The catch was that the smooch took place on an icy, 12,000-foot precipice in the Alps, with the mercury hovering at 20 below. ”I’ve never been colder in my life,” says the Northern Exposure actress. ”By the time I kissed Sly, my lips were numb.”
For Stallone, the mountaintop scene was strangely symbolic: After two dud comedies (Oscar and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot), he’s hoping his role as a stoic mountaineer battling archvillain John Lithgow will re-establish his footing as an action star. And Carolco Pictures, which narrowly averted bankruptcy last year, has bet as much as $70 million that it will.
Director Harlin (Die Hard 2) was so sure his actors could perform many of the dizzying stunts that he strapped himself into a harness to demonstrate the simplicity of one peak-to-peak rescue. ”I try to surprise the audience by moving the camera,” says Harlin, referring to one shot that starts with Stallone on a rock face and pulls back to reveal a 4,000-foot drop below him. In that sequence, audiences will see the cliff but not the hanger: The safety cables that secured Stallone were digitally erased in postproduction. (May 28)
Buzz: The dialogue is so clunky, you’ll be glad that action speaks louder than words. A lot louder: Cliffhanger’s dazzling stunt sequences (have you seen that trailer?) leave no doubt who this summer’s real last action hero is.
Starring Sharon Stone, William Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Polly Walker. Directed by Phillip Noyce.
Sex! Sin! Scandal! And that’s just the backstage story. Throughout filming, Stone, who stars as a Manhattan book editor seduced into a life of voyeurism by her Peeping Tom neighbor (Baldwin), was understandably uptight about proving herself worthy of all the hype she ignited in last year’s Basic Instinct. The tension might have been to blame for her well-publicized on-set squabbles with Baldwin.
”Whenever a man or woman hits it big,” says her understanding producer, Robert Evans (Urban Cowboy, Chinatown), ”it’s a very confused time. They’re terribly nervous about their next movie. I was with John Travolta during Urban Cowboy. It was the same thing.”
But shooting Sliver was only half the battle. Director Noyce had his own struggles with the ratings board-some of them concerning the coital liaisons between Baldwin and Stone—and the disappointing test screening that led to extensive reshoots. Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas’ dark, ambiguous ending (the killer got the girl and they flew into a volcano together) was replaced by a more upbeat closing that had the final test audience cheering. During reshoots, the high-strung Evans was rushed to the hospital with high blood pressure, but he says the worry was worth it. ”Thank God for the reshoots,” he spin-controls. ”They made the picture 40 percent better, I have to admit it.” (Now playing)
Buzz: They like to watch—but will you? Curiosity should ensure a big opening, but for Sliver to have staying power, that new ending had better be a turn-on.