Rocky is without a doubt one of the most iconic characters in film history.
It is almost 35 years since Sylvester Stallone made his debut as Rocky and films are still coming out in the series.
Though the attention has since shifted to the character of Adonis Creed, Stallone is still a major focus point, while there are plans in the works for a new Rocky prequel TV show as well.
First Rocky was a huge sleeper hit
Little was expected of the first Rocky film, which was directed by John G. Avildsen on a shoestring budget of around $1 million.
Stallone wrote the film himself, reportedly in just a few days, having been enthralled by the incredible fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner.
It was not initially expected that Stallone would play Rocky himself with a raft of other actors considered for the role.
However, Stallone insisted he would act as the lead and he eventually got his way.
It was a decision that proved to be a major turning point in his career.
Money was so tight when Stallone and Avildsen were making the film that several members of Stallone’s family played small roles in Rocky in order to help keep costs down.
Rocky was nominated for a slew of Academy Awards with Stallone up for both the Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor gongs.
He did not win either of those awards, but the film won Best Picture and Avildsen also took the prize for Best Director at that year’s Oscars.
Rocky’s success paves the way for sequels
Rocky making so much money at the box office meant it was inevitable there would be sequels and Stallone was duly entrusted with directing Rocky II, as well as acting in the lead role.
The move was justified as Rocky II was another big box office hit, clearing $200 million, while the scene where Rocky runs through Philadelphia is completely unforgettable.
A few years later saw the release of Rocky III, which made even more money at the box office, taking $16 million on its opening weekend.
Stallone was again the director and though the critics were not as impressed this time, the film’s theme Eye of the Tiger earned a nomination for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.
Some people believe it was then a case of rapidly diminishing returns from the next three Rocky films – Rocky IV, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa – but each of the movies still has its own fans.
Spin-offs get more inventive
Rocky fans have been given a lot of different ways to indulge their passion over the years.
Various Rocky-themed video games have been released, from Rocky for the Master System in 1987 to Creed: Rise to Glory, a virtual reality title that came out in 2018.
There is even a Rocky slot game that can be played at a range of online casinos now.
In the Playtech slot game, players come face to face with characters from the movies such as Apollo Creed, Ivan Drago and Clubber Lang.
It just goes to show how loved Rocky is that there are so many ways to enjoy the iconic boxer.
The future of the Rocky franchise
Creed was a successful reboot of the Rocky franchise when it was released back in 2015, almost 10 years after the previous Rocky film came out in cinemas.
A third Creed film is currently in development with Michael B. Jordan set to direct the film, as well as taking its lead role.
There has been speculation that boxer Deontay Wilder could appear in the movie as Clubber Lang’s son, but no release date has yet been set for the film.
Stallone has also confirmed that he has plans for another Rocky film in the works.
Having initially announced the project at the Cannes Film Festival last year, it is unclear how much progress has been made as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The film is said to focus on a young fighter who is stuck illegally in the United States with Stallone appearing as Rocky again.
It has long been mooted that a Rocky prequel television series could be created too.
Stallone is on the record as saying that there are “ongoing discussions” about the planned show, but there is reportedly some opposition to the plan from Irwin Winkler, the producer of the Rocky series.
What seems sure is that fans of the Rocky franchise will have a lot more movies to enjoy.
What do you make of this feature? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
What do you make of this story? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages! And if you enjoy listening to film podcasts, why not check out our podcasts, Small Screen Stories and Small Screen Film Club wherever you get your podcasts!