Rocky was written by and starred Sylvester Stallone as the title character, Rocky Balboa. This 1976 sports drama tells the story of an amateur fighter given a shot at the heavyweight championship. Costing only $1 million dollars, this film went on to be the highest grossing film of 1976, earning $225 million worldwide. Directed by John G Avildsen, Rocky was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editor. The franchise would go on to grow into eight sequels: Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), Rocky Balboa (2006), Creed (2015), Creed II (2018), and Creed III (2022). Check out various Rocky screen facts below.
Producers Didn’t want Sylvester Stallone to Star
When producers originally became interested in Stallone’s script, they offered him $350,000 for it. When he only sold the rights on the condition he star in the film, the studio cut the budget in half from $2 million to $1 million. They also held the producers liable for any over-budget expenses. Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff had to mortgage their homes for an extra $100,000 to complete the project.
Sylvester Stallone Was Broke
Stallone was broke when he was making the film. Before selling his script, he had $106 in his bank, no car and was trying to sell his dog because he couldn’t afford food to feed him. His income before making Rocky was $1,400 total. He worked as an usher earning $35 a week. Even when he was acting in the film he was only paid union minimums for his starring role. Unfortunately, Stallone sold his dog, but when he sold his script, he bought him back. The dog even made an appearance in the film as the dog Butkus.
Carl Weathers Insulted Stallone in His Audition
Actor Carl Weathers, who plays Apollo Creed, accidentally hit Stallone on the chin while sparring in his audition. Sylvester Stallone told Weathers to calm down. Worried he didn’t get the part, Weathers’ asked if he could audition with the real actor and not a stand-in, to show he could do a lot better. When he was told that Sylvester was the real actor and writer, he looked at Stallone and said, well, maybe he’ll get better. Stallone liked this and immediately offered him the part. During the filming of the last fight scene, Stallone injured his ribs and Weathers got a nose injury. Ironically, they had the opposite injuries of their characters.
First Draft Took Three and a Half Days
Stallone was inspired to write Rocky after seeing Muhammad Ali fight. He spent a year thinking about the idea in his head. Then over about 84 hours, he scribbled the whole script on a note pad using pen. The first draft had character and plot differences, however ended up becoming the much-loved masterpiece.
No Film Permits
Most of the scenes of Rocky running around Philadelphia were shot without permits, guerrilla-style. When Rocky jogs through the food market, a shopkeeper throws an orange at him. This was a real-life moment as the shop keeper had no idea a movie was being filmed or that he would be in it.