StudioCanal remounts ‘Cliff’

Studio teams with Original Film for reboot

Storming into Cannes with an ever-more muscular international slate and standout financial results, Gallic mini-major StudioCanal has announced that it will be teaming with Neal Moritz’s L.A.-based Original Films to reboot “Cliffhanger.”

A big-budget international action-adventure thriller set in a big mountain milieu, the makeover of Renny Harlin’s 1993 pic will center on a group of young climbers.

“Just as they rebooted ‘Star Trek,’ we’re going to do the same with ‘Cliffhanger,’ ” said Moritz, who will produce. Unlike the original, where Italy stood in for the Colorado Rockies, the new redo looks set to feature multiple cliff-face locations.

Moritz (“Fast & Furious”) and StudioCanal are looking to attach a screenwriter.

Aiming for a 2010 shoot, the makeover forms one of “a half-dozen or so projects” linking StudioCanal and Moritz, said StudioCanal chairman Olivier Courson.

Moritz is already producing an $80 million-plus  remake of “Escape from New York” for Warner Bros.-New Line and StudioCanal. And Universal and StudioCanal are co-financing the Moritz-produced narrative remake of docu “The Complete History of My Sexual Failures,” with Jay Roach attached to direct.

Owned by Vivendi paybox Canal Plus, StudioCanal will fully finance “Cliffhanger.”

“The Cliffhanger” announcement comes as StudioCanal looks to drive with ever more force into U.S., international and local movie production. It’s also upping the number of international pictures it’s producing per year to around five.

Despite the global economic downturn, StudioCanal has just released eye-catching financials with total 2008 sales of E400 million ($532.8 million), up 7.5%, and $74.6 million operating profits, up 22%.

But the Gallic studio wants more. Its production investment in 2008 was at $200 million. According to Courson, StudioCanal will now approach investors to raise complementary financing — targeting specific slates — pushing yearly production investment beyond $270 million a year.

StudioCanal has international production relationships with a slew of high-profile companies: Original, Montecito (on “Chloe”), Spyglass (the Charlize Theron-starrer “The Tourist”), John Woo and Terence Chang’s Lion Rock Prods. (for Kim Jee-woon’s “Max and the Junkmen”) and Media Asia — where it co-finances Johnnie To’s $40 million “The Red Circle,” from a script by “Eastern Promises” director Steve Knight.

“Circle” begins to shoot in early fall, Courson said.

Taking world rights outside the U.S., StudioCanal also co-financed thriller “Soon the Darkness,” Argentine Marcos Efron’s debut feature, with Amber Heard (“The Rum Diary”), and  Karl Urban (“Star Trek”). 

On Thursday, StudioCanal will showcase first footage from Ben Stassen’s “Around the World in 50 Years,” Europe’s biggest digital 3-D movie to date, which StudioCanal will distribute directly in the U.K. (via Optimum Releasing), Germany (via Kinowelt) and France; StudioCanal will also handle international sales.

“The idea is to be the leading European studio, a credible alternative to Hollywood’s majors, at the level of, say, Summit or Mandate, in production and international sales,” Courson said.

Currently pushing hard into U.K. production, StudioCanal has the base, and the will.