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"Rocky" Released in Theaters

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

The movie was released on Sunday, November 21, 1976 by United Artists at Cinema II in New York City. Rocky is a 1976 American sports drama film directed by John G. Avildsen, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone. It tells the rags to riches American Dream story of Rocky Balboa, an uneducated, kind-hearted working class Italian-American boxer, working as a debt collector for a loan shark in the slums of Philadelphia. Rocky, a small-time club fighter, gets a shot at the world heavyweight championship. The film also stars Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as Adrian's brother Paulie, Burgess Meredith as Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill, and Carl Weathers as the reigning champion, Apollo Creed.

The film, made on a budget of just over $1 million, was a sleeper hit; it earned $225 million in global box office receipts, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1976. The film was critically acclaimed and solidified Stallone's career as well as commenced his rise to prominence as a major movie star of that era. Among other accolades, it went on to receive ten Academy Award nominations, winning three, including Best Picture. Here is the original theatrical trailer:

Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky in three and a half days, shortly after watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner that took place at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield, Ohio on March 24, 1975.

United Artists liked Stallone's script, and viewed it as a possible vehicle for a well-established star such as Robert Redford, Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan. Stallone's agents, Rumar and Kubik, insisted that Stallone portray the title character, to the point of issuing an ultimatum. Stallone later said that he would never have forgiven himself, had the film become a success with somebody else in the lead. Although Chartoff and Winkler were enthusiastic about the script and the idea of Stallone playing the lead character, they were hesitant about having an unknown headline the film. Additional trailers also ran to "introduce' Sylvester Stallone:

Principal photography for Rocky began on January 9, 1976. Filming took place primarily throughout Philadelphia, with a few scenes being shot in Los Angeles.

Rocky was a huge box office success and grossed $117 million at the North American box office. Adjusted for inflation, the film earned over $500 million in North America at 2018 prices. Overseas Rocky fared just as well, grossing $107 million for a worldwide box office accumulation of $225 million. Rocky also went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture:

Sylvester Stallone and Muhammad Ali at the Oscars:

With its production budget of $1 million, Rocky is notable for its worldwide percentage return of over 11,000 percent. It was the highest-grossing film released in 1976 in the United States and Canada and the second highest-grossing film of 1977 behind Star Wars.

The film has spawned seven sequels: Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), Rocky Balboa (2006), Creed (2015), and Creed II (2018). Stallone portrays Rocky in all eight films, wrote seven of the eight films, and directed four of the six titular installments.

Four decades later, the film enjoys a reputation as a classic and still receives nearly universal praise. In 2006, Rocky was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

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