With more hits than misses, the 'Rocky' legacy lives on.While 1976's "Rocky" took Sylvester Stallone a mere three days to pen and filmmakers only 28 days to shoot, the franchise's appeal has endured three decades -- the result largely due to its continued exposure to audiences in the home formats. So, it's no surprise that MGM worked with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment to vamp up a new "Rocky Anthology" and "Collector's Edition" in preparation of the Dec. 20 theatrical release of "Rocky Balboa."
"It's a banner year for Rocky," TCFHE senior vp marketing communications Steven Feldstein says. "It's the 30th anniversary of the original film, and there's a terrific new movie opening in theaters. 'Rocky' awareness will be at an all-time high. The original movie reminds fans how in love with the character they are."
"Rocky: Collector's Edition" has been souped up with hours of extras for both the DVD and Blu-ray Disc formats. Released Dec. 5, the two-disc special-edition DVD ($26.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($39.98) contain all-new commentary from director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone, producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, legendary boxing trainer Lou Duva and International Boxing Hall of Fame writer, boxing historian and reporter Bert Sugar. The bonus materials also feature the 90-minute documentary "In the Ring," as well as deleted scenes and a sneak peek of "Rocky Balboa."
They're also loaded with featurettes: "Three Rounds With Legendary Trainer Loud Duva," "Interview With a Legend: Bert Sugar," "The Opponents," "Steadicam: Then & Now," "Make Up!: The Art & Form With Michael Westmore," "Stacatto: A Composer's Notebook With Bill Conti" and "The Ring of Truth."
The iconic "Rocky" films have collectively sold about 5 million units on home video through the years. And MGM and TCFHE hope to bring Rocky to a new generation of fans with the recent DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Separately, all five "Rocky" films have, for the first time, been packaged together in a boxed set. The "Rocky Anthology" ($49.98), also released Dec. 5, contains the five movies in a thinpak collection.
The Academy Award-winning boxing drama was shot in 28 days on an estimated $1 million budget. It debuted theatrically in 1976 and went on to rack up $117 million at the U.S. boxoffice and $225 million worldwide. Insisting on taking the title role, the film's writer Sylvester Stallone shot up to international fame, raising critics' hopes for his acting career. Stallone was joined by cast members Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith and Tony Burton, with John G. Avildsen at the helm. The film tells the story of an unknown boxer, Rocky Balboa, who gets a shot at making a name for himself when he's set up to fight the current heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed. The iconic shot of Rocky running up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art while in training was one of the first uses of the Steadicam. "Rocky" won the 1977 Oscars for best picture, director and film editing, and it was nominated for lead actor, actress, supporting actor (for which it received two noms), screenplay, original song and sound, among numerous nods from other prestigious institutions. The film ranks No. 4 on the American Film Institute's "100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time."
Rocky II (1979)
In the first follow-up to the smash hit "Rocky," Stallone took over the reins as director. Stallone, Shire, Young, Weathers, Meredith and Burton all reunited for the second installment, also written by Stallone, who has Rocky retire from boxing to humbly take a job as a meat-packing worker, only to be laid off. Taunted by his former nemesis, Creed, Rocky finally accepts a rematch and begins training. This time, when Rocky runs up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he's accompanied by hundreds of fans. Critics and audiences embraced the film, which earned $85.2 million at the U.S. boxoffice and $200 million worldwide. However, the only recognition it received was the People's Choice Award for favorite motion picture and the American Movie Award's Marquee Award for best film.
Rocky III (1982)
This go-round sees Rocky fighting to get his title back from Clubber Lang (Mr. T). The principal cast from the first two films united again with writer/director/star Stallone. In this installment, Rocky hits the big time, buying a mansion and getting his due as the heavyweight champ. He also dabbles in wrestling (Hulk Hogan vaulted to fame with the role of Thunderlips). But even though the film earned $125 million at the U.S. boxoffice, it started to lose its luster with film critics. "Rocky III's" most enduring contribution is the Survivor song "Eye of the Tiger"; the fist-pumping tune garnered nominations for an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for best original song. In addition, Mr. T earned a Razzie nomination for worst new star -- the first of several such dubious achievements garnered by the series' latter installments.
Rocky IV (1985)
This is the only "Rocky" in the entire six-film series that composer Bill Conti did not score. Without Conti, there also was no trademark introductory fanfare as in the other movies. In this bout, Rocky faces Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a superbly trained boxer from the Soviet Union. The heavyweight champ must not only defend his title but also his country. Stallone is backed by the usual cast and is joined this time by Lundgren, Brigitte Nielsen and Michael Pataki. "Rocky IV" still pumped past the $100 million mark at the domestic boxoffice, grossing $127.9 million and $300 million worldwide. Although the film's performances were pummeled by critics, the installment won over German audiences with a Golden Screen Award in that country.
Rocky V (1990)
Avildsen once again takes the helm. But this offering didn't bring back the Oscar accolades that the first "Rocky" collected. Stallone is back with castmates Shire, Young and Burton. Here, a retired Rocky finds himself insufficiently prepared for retirement and back in his old Philly neighborhood, where he coaches up-and-comer Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison) while his son, Rocky Jr. (Stallone's real-life son, Sage Stallone), grows jealous of the young fighter. The film made $40.9 million domestically and $119.9 million worldwide. Critically panned, many reviewers felt this was the weakest film in the franchise and thought Stallone should have thrown in the towel.