With the subgenre proving successful for most franchises, Ric Roman Waugh is teasing how the Cliffhanger legacy sequel will evolve the Sylvester Stallone-led series. The original film starred Stallone as a mountain climber and ranger in the Rocky Mountains who accidentally becomes caught up in an attempted heist of a U.S. Treasury plane containing over $100 million. Debuting to modest critical and strong financial success, development on a Cliffhanger follow-up has languished for decades, including a female-led reimagining from A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night‘s Ana Lily Amirpour.
While speaking exclusively with Screen Rant for his action-thriller Kandahar, Ric Roman Waugh looked ahead to his upcoming projects, including the in-development Cliffhanger 2. In addition to sharing some story details, the director was enthusiastic in his ability to carry on the Sylvester Stallone franchise, teasing how the new film will evolve the story in the same way Top Gun: Maverick and the Creed films did for their respective series. See what Waugh shared below:
I’ve also now come aboard — which I’m very excited about — a huge title of the early ’90s, harkens back to my stunt career, didn’t work on it, but knew very much about it. I’m going to do the next evolution of Cliffhanger with Stallone, and watch his character evolve forward, and he has a daughter now who’s a mountaineering climber, as well, and all hell breaks loose in the Italian Alps, and here we go. But it’s the evolution of [Cliffhanger] the way Top Gun: Maverick carried forward the story of the original movie, how Creed became the evolution of a franchise of Rocky into something new. That’s kind of what we’re after on Cliffhanger, so that’s fun, it’s fun to be part of a new fresh start, or the evolution of something like that. But, one is a continuation of a story that means a lot to me, and the other one is going to be fun to hopefully evolve something in a really cool and meaningful way.
Can Cliffhanger Match Top Gun & Creed’s Success?
The decision to shift away from a female-led reimagining towards a legacy sequel for the next Cliffhanger movie proves an interesting step for the property, especially given Amirpour told Screen Rant this past October development on a new script was nearly complete and indicated it would be somehwere between a remake and sequel in the same vein as Prey. However, considering the success of legacy sequels in recent years, it may have been that her and her writer were taking an approach the producers were no longer interested in.
The question now becomes whether Waugh’s Cliffhanger sequel will reach the same heights of success as Top Gun: Maverick and the Creed films. The Tom Cruise-led sequel similarly endured a lengthy development cycle and finally soared to theaters in early 2022 to become the star’s best-reviewed and highest-grossing film of his career, proving well worth the wait. The Michael B. Jordan-led movies, however, came after a planned finale to the Rocky franchise, but have gone on to stand on their own feet respectively.
With Waugh looking towards the two legacy sequels for inspiration, the biggest key for the Cliffhanger sequel’s success seems to lie in how it sets up its next generation of characters. Top Gun: Maverick decidedly kept the focus on Cruise’s eponymous hero, though still introduced likable new pilots, while the Creed films purposely explored the theme of legacy to much acclaim through Jordan’s character. With the next Cliffhanger following Stallone’s character’s daughter, it will be interesting to see if it can continue this legacy sequel succes.