Budget tale a ‘Cliffhanger’

Open up the record books: Carolco’s “Cliffhanger” may become 1992’s most expensive film production. Sources within and around the company say the picture will ultimately cost a minimum of $ 73 million–or $ 26 million over its original budget.

And reports that film guarantors at the Completion Bond Co. have paid out $ 5 million to $ 7 million in over-budget excesses on the still-lensing picture are apparently untrue. “There has been no claim made on the bond,” says CBC’s Fred Milstein.

That’s a twist, on a shoot that’s already pretty twisted up.

Carolco sources confirm that CBC has not paid out anything on “Cliffhanger,” although the film is currently $ 20 million over its original budget, with some expensive scenes still to be shot and some postproduction costs still to come.

Those sources say the original budget on the pic was $ 47 million. An additional $ 12 million in contingency monies was raised, backing Carolco and CBC’s belief that the film could be made, no matter what troubles ensued, for $ 59 million. Weather problems cost the production 14 lost days, the sources say, and the budget of cash actually paid out rose to $ 67 million.

Still to be shot is a complex “plane-to-plane” sequence, in which one of the bad guys physically jumps from one airborne plane to another. The scene is so key, says one source, that “Cliffhanger” topliner Sylvester Stallone agreed to forgo as much as $ 2 million of his own estimated $ 15 million salary to cover the cost of the shot.

A Stallone spokesperson issued a “no comment” on that point.

Director Renny Harlin issued a similar no comment, a spokesperson saying only that the director “has nothing to add” to the story.

Per sources, the plane-to-plane scene and others, plus post-production costs, will run the final budget up to $ 73 million to $ 74 million. Why, then, has Carolco not brought CBC into the picture and made them pay out on the completion bond guarantee?

One source says it’s a PR gambit: Asking CBC to pay up “would be tantamount to Carolco telling the world that they cannot produce or finish a movie without going way over budget.”

So far, the money for overbudget expenses has all come from Carolco’s key foreign partners, France’s Canal Plus, Italy’s Rizzoli and Japan’s Pioneer. Another $ 6 million was kicked in by Credit Lyonnais.

Part of the budget overage was due to bad weather during filming in Italy, and Carolco was carrying weather insurance. Sources say Carolco and its partners can expect to recoup $ 5 million to $ 7 million of the estimated $ 8 million that weather problems cost them.

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