Sylvester Stallone combines a sinister, symbiotic connection with Rocky, the outsider-boxer character he created four decades ago – a kindred spirit who acted as his creative muse in the creation of one of Hollywood's most successful film franchises. In his long career, Stallone also played another memorable film role – John Rambo – but Rocky was created by himself and still has a unique place in the structure of his being. "It's like my brother," he says. "It's the only voice I can say what I want, without being ridiculed or silly, or precious or sentimental because it is so."
In an Hourly Interview with Variety Stallone openly talks about how the "Rocky" movie series has affected his life and career. She catapulted him to worldwide fame, but also gave him a punch in the stomach, which is still clearly sting.
Stallone, 73, I've never said publicly that he was deeply upset for decades, that he had no part in the lucrative series that starred with the 1
Over the years, he has accumulated a million-dollar fortune from the eight-picture series "Rocky," which contains the "Creed." and "Creed II" spin-offs. He earned net points for the original film – whose production cost more than $ 1 million worldwide and earned $ 225 million – and received the first dollar gross in the first episodes.
But Stallone insists that he should be deprived of his interest in the franchise A kind of annuity that he would have left to his children after his death remains a real wound.
"I do not own property, Rocky," he tells me, as we sit down to Variety at the Los Angeles headquarters. "Every word, every syllable, every grammatical mistake was all my fault," he says. "It was shocking that it never came to that, but I was told, 'Hey, you got paid, what are you complaining about?' I was angry." That is, he blames his own naivety and lack of business acumen. The time not to tackle the topic hard enough: "They do not want to see the feathers of the golden goose disheveled."
The "Rocky" producer Irwin Winkler and other members The franchise responded with surprise when they learned that Stallone was plucking in. To his dedication, he said the actor-writer-director had earned double-digit profits in addition to his up-front fees for each installment through a healthy profit share and additional sideline. "He earns money in every way, and still does, so I do not know what he's complaining about," says a person who has asked for anonymity out of a fondness for the star. Another source says Stallone has earned more than $ 10 million with "Creed" and "Creed II". He also acted as producer for both.
Stallone also openly talks about his painful struggle with an industry that once recognized him as one of the biggest box office in the world and rejected him for about 15 years after the 1990 flop "Rocky V" and other bombs, including the comedy " Stop or my mother will shoot, "he said, describing how he felt extinct during these fallow years and saying," I have traversed the path of the Dodo and the Tasmanian Tiger. "
He was hired by his agency CAA and told his manager they said they could not, I found no work for him and suggested that he seek a new representative. (In May, after years of agency hopping, Stallone returned to CAA.)
First with In the release of "Rocky Balboa" (2006), which he wrote, directed and starred in, Stallone returned to the good side of Hollywood, reiterating his role in the two "Creed" Movies.
In our interview, he revealed that he is working on a new "Rocky" movie for Winkler's production company and MGM (who own the franchise) about who once the boxing champion became friends with a young street fighter who lives illegally in the US. "We are very excited," says Winkler, and negotiations are underway so that Stallone can write the film and play in the lead roles. "We are very much looking forward to it." Stallone announced that there are ongoing discussions about a "Rocky" prequel as a TV series, probably for a streaming platform.
The emergence of "Rocky" goes back to 1975. When Stallone, born in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen, was a broke fighting actor who wrote the script in three and a half days, having seen how the little-known fighter Chuck Wepner fought big in the finals against boxing champ Muhammad Ali Heart beat. Stallone says that his story about a fighter without a name in Philadelphia is not about boxing. "It really is a metaphor for life," he says. "That was a love story. By chance he is boxing for a living, but the story is about his love for [his wife, Adrian Balboa, played by Talia Shire]. You're rooting for the outsider, and he had something to fight for – for her.
When he got the opportunity to sell the rights to his screenplay to producers Winkler and Robert Chartoff, he only agreed if he could play that lead. But they had bigger ideas.
"They had Redford, Nick Nolte, Jimmy Caan, Ryan O'Neal and Burt Reynolds – who were all in their prime – and then you had a loser named Sylvester, who was just naive enough to hang On, "says Stallone, who at that time had $ 100 and was known to sell his bull mastiff Butkus to pay the rent for his Hollywood apartment. When he landed "Rocky", he bought his dog back and planned to show him in the movie. He was told that if he wanted to take Butkus they would have to take the train to the Philadelphia location. "It took four days," he recalls.
Is it true that you became a millionaire with the first "Rocky"?
It was probably the first and last time anyone saw pay off net points.
How many net points did you receive?
I received 10 net points.
All in all, how much did you earn with the original movie?
About $ 2.5 million, which was unbelievable to me. [Winkler says, “He made way, way more than that — of that I am sure”]. I was the happiest man in the world. You must understand that my total income in the year before "Rocky" was $ 1,400 for the entire year. I got $ 35 a week as a usher. About $ 100 a month.
What were the terms of the deal you signed with MGM?
For the first one, I got $ 35,000. The script cost about $ 25,000, then $ 360 per week before tax. It only shot for 25 days. Luckily, there were the WGA minimums. I earned about $ 2000 for acting. The second deal was all-in for $ 75,000.
How much for the third movie?
About $ 120,000. [He made millions of dollars on the back end.]
You said you are upset that you have no ownership of the "Rocky" franchise.
I mentioned it a couple of times because after "Rocky II" one was released a ton of money and then "Rocky III" hit and did more than anyone else. I said I'd like some property since I invented it. And that never happened. So I have no ownership of "Rocky".
So you asked for an assignment and were rejected? Who told you no?
My lawyer [Jake Bloom].
. What was your CAA agent at the time, Ron Meyer?
Ronnie I never mentioned it.
. Why not
Because I was told that it just does not happen, nobody has it and they give you more money for "Rocky III". You have taken your risk and you are not entitled to it.
"You say the definition of Hollywood is someone who pokes you in the chest. You do not even hide it.
Jake said that?
Yes, in a roundabout way: "You will not get more. He said, "No one gets it," and I said, "I understand it, but now, that's a kind of exception to the rule. "To tell the truth, I was so busy with other things that I did not work it out. [Bloom declined to comment for this story.]
So you have never really turned it upside down?
No, I never really turned them upside down, and when we came to Rocky Balboa I was in a pretty weak position to say something. I was in a crisis and it was pretty intense. It was a great sense of finality. I could not be arrested. I was fired from my agency. Basically dropped – fired.
It's still hard for me to understand why you did not insist on getting exactly what you created.
I think there may have been a certain code of conduct maybe not so much now, but back then that you do not freak the feathers of the golden goose. The studio is the power, the agency relies on it and the lawyers are the mediators. When I finally confronted them [just before “Rocky IV” in 1985] I said, "Does it bother you that I've written every word, I've choreographed it, I've been faithful to you, I've promoted it, I've directed it and I do not have 1% that I could deliver for my kids? "And the quote was," They were paid. "And that was the end of the conversation.
What about all of MGM's royalty and merchandising revenue? Made of" Rocky "with your image?
They had 100 different licenses and they said putting it all in the pot, which would have meant hundreds of millions of dollars over 45 years, I've never seen this pot before.
How was it for you never to miss the "Rocky" windfall?
I was very angry, I was angry, "Rocky" is more on TV worldwide than any other Oscar-winning film except "Godfather." You have six of them, and now you have "Creed" and "Creed II."
I love the system – do not get me wrong, my children and their children are cared for by the system, but there are dark little kids and people who tell you, they say the definition of Hollywood is someone who pokes you in the chest, you do not even hide it.
You said that you were fired from your agents by CAA and your manager. How hard was that for you?
Listen, I have nothing against her. And I now understand it on this side of the desk. They could do nothing for me. They could not get any traction. They said, "Look, maybe you should look for someone because we can not." It was around 2002, and for six years nothing was cooking for me.
Why do you think? Did you find yourself on the street?
I think that happened because I was not as hardworking as I should have been to make certain career choices. For example, I shot a movie called "D-Tox," which had a really good cast, but after a week, the producers decided to change direction, and the movie had a cloud over it. It was on the shelf for two years and that was the beginning of "Stallone is [over]".
What did you do next?
I shot a movie called "Daylight". The premise was really good, but it did not deliver, so you shouldered that. And just before, I did "Cop Land," which I thought was a good acting exercise, and I worked with the best director I've ever worked with – James Mangold. I loved the movie, but it actually worked the other way round. It was pretty good from a critical point of view, but the fact that it did not do a lot of cash work further encouraged the opinion that I had my moment and followed the path of the Dodo and Tasmanian Tigers. So I'm gone. Because with "Rocky IV" I should have learned from my predecessors that very few people want to see the dark side of a beloved figure of them.
So, did the film turn over from your point of view?
was too dark. I said that Rocky can not fight in the ring anymore, but in the street. As he struggles with Tommy Morrison in the movie, Rocky says, "I can not beat you in the ring, but I'll beat you on the street. "Well, it did not work and it was devastating for me. Every "Rocky" was more successful than the last, and then he just broke in. That was in 1990, so I was pretty well cooked for almost 15 years.
So, were you ready to give up "Rocky" altogether?
No, then I thought I would like to try to save "Rocky" and make some good news. If you're 60 years old and you want to play a boxer after a sequel that bombed [1990’s “Rocky V”] fifteen years ago, you have no chance.
I went to the studios. And Alex Yemenidjian headed MGM at that time. He told me that nobody wanted to do it [“Rocky VI”] absolutely nobody. [Yemenidjiandfrom1999bis2005MGMNotes Variety : "I remember that I told Sly that there is nothing new and fresh, and we become the laughing stock of the industry if we can do it. "]
There must have been a lot of unbelievers that would work" Rocky VI. "
There was such skepticism, and rightly so, it's like making" Godfather 20 ".
The core audience was grown and gone, and I said it was not about boxing, but about grief and loss, and finally lost his love, which is the end of the equation for him, the only way he can handle it is cathartic through struggles He says, "I have this beast in me," and it worked. [“Rocky VI” became the 2006 release “Rocky Balboa.”]
Was it hard for you to find so many in Hollywood that you had written off?
I had seen this city from every summit, and I had seen it from the valley, I know the terrain pretty well, and the fact that "Rocky [Balboa]" once more dominated was even more meaningful to me than " Rocky I. "There was no reason to be surprised, you are well above the right age and the publisher that came – my population did not show up at all – was between 28 and 30 years old.
What do you think, it has attracted the public, and why do you think "Rocky" has passed the times?
It was like the first "Rocky". It has something to do with the persistence of being so overwhelmed with life and still going through it. People can deal with it subliminally. … Rocky is very touchable. He was the most insecure fighter of all time. He just did not have any faith in himself at all and I think a lot of people think that way. They see how the character in the movie overcomes them, and they say, "You know, I could do that too." So I think he has some kind of relationship and a degree of cunning. [is what appeals]
I just met a girl – I put the story on Instagram – who is 9 years old. Their parents flew them from Russia and somehow they found me in the editorial room and I asked them, "I'm an old man, how is it possible you even know who Rocky is?" And she says, "Rocky never gets old. I want him to become a father. "
You're a big Instagram star with 10 million followers.
It all started as a joke. Yeah, I'm a bit mature for Instagram, but my daughters did it to me. They said, "That can not be that hard."
I've heard that you want to make a "rocking" prequel for television, and Winkler has other ideas. Is that correct?
There was a conflict, yes. He felt that "Rocky" was primarily a feature film and he did not see it as translated for cable, so there was a big point of controversy.
Any chance that "Rocky" would have Come back to the screen one day in the role?
There is a good chance that "Rocky" will ride again.
What is the basic requirement?
Rocky meets a young, angry person who has managed to get stuck in this country when he sees his sister. He takes him into his life and incredible adventures begin, ending south of the border. It is very, very up to date.
So history would touch the immigration problems in the US that are making headlines today?
Yes. Are you telling someone that you've just met someone in the street who's having trouble and is homeless, getting out, or are you picking him up? If you pick it up, you're in trouble.
How close do you think this is?
You want to go tomorrow.
Do you regard Rocky as your legacy?
It is. It's like my brother. It is the only voice I can say what I want, without being ridiculed, silly, valuable or sentimental because it is so. Rocky can not keep silent. He just talks and talks and spills his courage. And if you do that a lot as a writer, it looks like you're just lost in the world of the exhibition. But he actually says something and because of his way of speaking and his naivety and gentle manner one hears. Rocky can say things that my other characters can never say.
Are you saying that you are Rocky?
There is a certain similarity.