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The Rocky franchise is the only one of its kind, a franchise that began with a Best Picture winner and gradually declined over the next three decades. Sylvester Stallone’s underdog boxer tale was strong and emotional, then a little hokey, but always remained entertaining no matter how corny it became.
Everyone has seen and most appreciate Rocky, then in my opinion Rocky II is the least remembered out of all six films. Rocky III, while some of that glossy nature began creeping in, was still highly emotional and bolstered by a strong villain in Mr. T’s Clubber Lang.
Here are a handful of facts about the first three Rocky films, with the last three on the way soon…
1. When Sylvester Stallone was shopping his script around Hollywood, he only had $106 in his bank account, no car, and was trying to offload his dog to save money. Producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff offered Stallone $350,000 for the rights, but he refused unless he was given the opportunity to star in the movie as well.
2. Some of the more pointed moments leading up to the Apollo Creed fight showcased Rocky’s minimal importance to the fight itself, but were actual mistakes that could not be fixed because of a small budget. For example, the poster where Rocky’s shorts colors are reversed and his oversized robe were mistakes in production, so Stallone added lines for both to cover them in the story.
3. The monologue, which Rocky delivers after turning down Mickey’s offer to manage him, was completely improvised on-set by Sylvester Stallone. He has since explained that he was heavily influenced by the fact that the bathroom of the tiny apartment in which they were shooting really did stink.
4. When shooting the scenes in the meat-locker where he punches the slabs of beef, actor Sylvester Stallone punched the meat so hard for so long that he flattened out his knuckles. To this day, when he makes a fist, his knuckles are completely level.
5. According to Burt Young, during filming of the scene where Paulie walks home drunk, an actual drunk wandered onto the location and told Young he wasn’t acting drunk convincingly, so Young asked the man to demonstrate it. Young then copied the man’s actions for the scene.
6. Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers suffered injuries during the shooting of the final fight; Stallone suffered bruised ribs and Weathers suffered a damaged nose, the opposite injuries of what their characters had.
7. In one version of the screenplay, there is a flashback scene that shows Rocky first meeting Mickey and we learn Rocky’s real first name: Robert.
8. Originally, Adrian was supposed to be at the big fight. However, because Talia Shire was working on another movie at the time, the storyline was changed to having her stay home and watch the fight on TV. The scenes of her watching the boxing match on TV were shot and then edited into the movie several months after filming the fight scenes had finished.
9. During the main fight, Apollo Creed is wearing the exact same red and white-trimmed shorts as Rocky was wearing on the overhead banner with his picture during the first fight in Rocky.
10. Sylvester Stallone himself wrote the paperback novelization for this movie. The novel is mostly in first person, from Rocky’s point of view, written in the same choppy English in which Rocky speaks. Scenes in which Rocky is not present (such as Apollo Creed consulting his associates, or Paulie alone with Adrian) are in standard third-person, in proper English.
11. Analysis by Philadelphia locals tracked the route Rocky took through the city during his training run when all the children ended up running with him. If he took this actual route from his South Philly house to the top of the Art Museum steps he would’ve run approximately 30.2 miles in one day – 4 miles more than a marathon.
12. Sylvester Stallone began working on the Rocky III script immediately after completing Rocky II, with the intention of the series being a trilogy. Originally, he had no plans to make a fourth film.
13. This is Carl Weathers’s favorite film in the Rocky saga because he thinks Apollo Creed is actually given some human dimension finally.
14. Sylvester Stallone’s first wife Sasha was the blonde groupie who asked for and got a kiss from Rocky during his public training session for his first fight with Clubber Lang.
15. Mr. T took his mother to the premiere. During the scene where he yells lurid remarks at Adrian, his mother turned to him and said “I did not raise you to talk to a lady like that,” and she walked out.
16. Hulk Hogan received the initial offer to be in the movie after a wrestling match against André the Giant at Shea Stadium. At first, he thought one of the wrestlers was trying to pull a prank on him. When he returned from a tour of Japan, Hogan received a Western Union letter he had to sign for. The contents: Sylvester Stallone’s offer to be in the movie. He immediately signed on for the role of Thunderlips.
17. Of the Rocky movies that show an official boxing match at the conclusion of the film (all but Rocky V), Rocky III is the only one to show the entire fight without jumping to later rounds.
18. Mickey’s last name appears on his grave marker, the first reference to his last name in the film series. His last name is Goldmill.