When it comes to sports films, nearly every sport has one that truly encapsulates its purpose. Boxing films have come and gone for decades with very few memorable ones. In 1976, one rising star from New York City turned sports films upside down.
Real life inspiration
While Sylvester Stallone had several minor roles under his belt, he still was searching for that huge break. Fortunately, he found inspiration while watching a Chuck Wepner boxing match. In a few weeks, the script for Rocky was done. In what was a rarity at the rime, Stallone gave himself the title role.
With the backing of United Artists, Stallone was ready to bring Rocky to life. All he needed was a fantastic director to aid him. John G. Avildsen, who directed the Oscar nominated film Save the Tiger, was on board to sit in the coveted director’s chair.
Flying high now
As expected, shooting this film would lead to some on set injuries. Stallone and co-star Carl Weathers told stunt doubles to take a hike with this one. They wanted to truly feel what it was like in the ring. Unfortunately, both stars managed to get banged up badly while filming the last fight.
You couldn’t have an action packed boxing film without any grand music. Bill Conti, who composed the score, delivered a surprise hit with “Gonna Fly Now.” The song has been used in almost every epic moment since its release. The tune has even been used for not so epic events like brushing teeth and ironing pants.
The big reveal
On November 21, 1976, Rocky had its big premiere in New York City. Upon its release, the movie gained critical praise from Roger Ebert and Frank Rich. While the film made over $225 million worldwide, its budget would be unfathomable today. The entire film cost United Artists a cool million dollars. In comparison, 2015’s Creed cost around $40 million.
Rocky became the film boxing enthusiasts waited years to watch. For those named Adrian, however, it led to their name drunkenly yelled at bars across the country.