If someone would have told you a few years ago that Rocky 7 is going to be the critics’ favorite, you probably wouldn’t have taken it too seriously. Let’s face it, since Rocky 1 this franchise did not fare well with cinema connoisseurs… But all changed with “Creed” – arguably the best installment in this series since Rocky 1. And with this landmark comes a revival of interest in the previous (albeit less high-brow) movies, so we thought this is a good opportunity to enlighten you with some facts you probably didn’t know about Rocky.
1. STALLONE WROTE THE FIRST DRAFT OF ROCKY IN ONLY THREE DAYS!
With limited experience in screenwriting, and only $106 in the bank, Stallone sat down with a Bic pen and a spiral notebook and wrote the first draft of the now legendary movie in just 3 days. Although the final draft turned out very different than what Stallone originally penned, the script was enough to get the attention of the producers and get the film made.
2. ROBERT REDFORD, BURT REYNOLDS, AND JAMES CAAN WERE THE FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY ROCKY
The studio wanted Stallone out of the movie so bad that they offered him over $300,000 to sell them the rights to the screenplay if he agreed to not star in it. Luckily, the budget was lowered to $1 million and the studio had no choice but to let Stallone star in the movie. He ended up getting paid only $20,000 for the screenplay and just $350 per week for acting.
3. ROCKY’S ICONIC RUN LASTS OVER 30 AND A HALF MILES
The famous training montage from Rocky II shows him jogging past some of Philadelphia most known landmarks as he trains for his big match. A calculation of the route from Rocky’s house all the way to the steps of the art museum shows that Rocky ran for 30.61 miles total!
4. ROCKY WAS ACTUALLY NEVER IN RUSSIA!
In Rocky IV, the epic training Rocky went through before fighting Ivan Drago was all shot in freezing Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The final fight, set in a large city in U.S.S.R. was actually filmed at the Agrodome Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.
5. ‘EYE OF THE TIGER’ ALMOST DIDN’T EXIST
Stallone had a different song in mind when he shot Rocky III. He wanted to use Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” for the training montage, but couldn’t get the publishing rights for it. Only then he approached the band Survivor and asked them to write a song for the movie. The rest is history.
6. CHARLIE CHAPLIN AND ELVIS PRESLEY WERE ROCKY FANS
Chaplin wrote to Stallone that Rocky reminded him of a character he used to play, and even invited the actor to visit him in Switzerland. Elvis asked Stallone if he could screen Rocky in Memphis and invited him to watch the film together. Unfortunately, Stallone turned down both offers and never got to meet the two, as both passed away shortly after.
7. DOLPH LUNDGREN DID ACTUALLY BREAK STALLONE
The first 45 seconds of the fight between Rocky and Drago was real! Stallone wanted the fight to look authentic so he asked Lundgren to really try to knock him out. Bad idea. Lundgren hit Stallone so hard in the chest that his heart banged against his ribs and began to swell. That night Stallone was rushed to the ER and remained in intensive care for five days. If it’d gone untreated, Stallone’s heart would have continued to swell until it would stop beating.
8. STALLONE WAS SEVERELY INJURED WHILE FILMING ROCKY II
While working out before the final fight scene, Stallone was bench-pressing 220 pounds when one of the weights slipped and made him tore his right pectoral muscle, leaving him with 160 stitches under his arm. Although the injury could’ve stalled the production, Stallone wasn’t going to let the pain stop him and incredibly was able to finish shooting the remainder of the film.
9. STALLONE’S FAMILY APPEAR IN THE ROCKY MOVIES
Sly loved having his family around on set, and gave them small parts throughout the series. In the first Rocky, Stallone’s brother, Frank Stallone Jr., played a street corner singer, while his father, Frank Sr. played the timekeeper for the fight. In Rocky III, Stallone’s first wife, Sasha, is seen getting a kiss from Rocky during his training session.
10. APOLLO CREED WAS BASED ON MUHAMMAD ALI
Ali was not only a huge Rocky fan, but his fight against an underdog fighter named Chuck Wepner in 1975 was what inspired Stallone to come up with the idea for the movie in the first place. For the release of Rocky II, Ali organized a private screening and watched the film alongside famous movie critic, Roger Ebert, who noted how Ali felt about Apollo Creed’s character: “Apollo Creed, the way he dances, the way he jabs, the way he talks...That's me."