How Sylvester Stallone lost his ‘Rocky’ legacy


Rocky Balboa knows how to take a beating.

But Sylvester Stallone, 76, who created and portrayed that iconic boxer, seems pretty beat up about losing control of his “Rocky” legacy.

The actor has long been irked by the fact that as a young Hollywood unknown, he signed a deal relinquishing ownership of the “Rocky” franchise, which he created. (Stallone wrote the movie.)

Since at least 1976, Rocky’s rights have been owned by producer Irwin Winkler.

Now, with Friday’s release of “Creed III” – a spin-off of the “Rocky” franchise – things seem to have hit a new low.

While Stallone had cameos in the first two “Creed” movies, he doesn’t appear in this one. In fact, he said on Sirius XM’s “Pop Culture Spotlight with Jessica Shaw” last November that he “neverwatch the third episode even though he has a producer credit on the movie.

Winkler and Stallone before the “Rocky” battle turned ugly.

Last July, Stallone posted on Instagram a photo illustration of a vampiric Winkler sucking the blood out of Rocky. It has since been removed from the site, but can be seen at Deadline Hollywood.

In the caption, he wrote: “Throughout history so many artists in every industry, recording, painting, writing, you name it, have been destroyed by these bloodsuckers who have destroyed so many families, filling their pockets with other people[‘s] work.”

He’s also Winkler described as “Supposed to be the most hated, untalented, decrepit producer in Hollywood.”

Representatives for Winkler, 91, did not respond to a request for comment.

Irwin Winkler
Winkler offered Stallone a chance when the now-legend was a struggling actor.

It all started in the mid-1970s, when a friend of Stallone’s arranged a meeting with producing partners Bob Chartoff (now deceased) and Winkler – who is now a seasoned film producer on such films as ‘The Irishman’, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. ‘). and “The right things.”

Stallone, a struggling actor, told them about his idea for “Rocky.”

The producers asked him to write the script to specification. It was agreed that if the film was made, Stallone would play Rocky.

As explained in Winkler’s memoir, “A Life in Movies,” Chartoff and Winkler had a production deal with United Artists.

Sylvester Stallone
Stallone wants what he believes is his share of “Rocky’s” property.
Getty Images

It included a clause ensuring that the studio would finance a movie of the duo’s choosing, as long as it came in under a $1.5 million budget and they hadn’t made a movie in nine months.

“Rocky” became that movie.

“Stallone was unknown at the time. He had no influence,” a Hollywood insider told The Post. “It took some balls for the producers to get him to star in ‘Rocky’. And that made him a star.”

In fact, it took more than balls. In 1983 Winkler told Hollywood reporter that he and Chartoff “put our homes as collateral” to guarantee the film would arrive on time and under budget.

Carl Weathers, Irwin Winkler, Sylvester Stallone
Carl Weathers, Winkler (center), and Stallone (right) celebrate the producer receiving a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.
Corbis via Getty Images

Winkler writes in his book that Arthur Krim, president of United Artists, reluctantly agreed to cast Stallone and wanted to see the actor in action.

He watched “The Lords of Flatbush,” a 1974 movie about 1950s Brooklyn street gangs. Stallone was one of the four protagonists.

According to Winkler’s book, United Artists, who financed the film, offered to buy Stallone’s “Rocky” script for $250,000.

Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone ended up making about $2.5 million for writing and starring in the first “Rocky” movie.
©United Artists/Courtesy of Everet

“I suspect,” Winkler wrote of the offer, “with no intent to make the movie, just to bail us out. To them, $250,000 seemed a lot cheaper than $1.5 million.”

Moreover, writes Winkler, Krim mistook Stallone for another actor in “Flatbush” and “was quite pleased … It wasn’t until he saw our finished film nine months later that he realized he had made the film with the wrong man.”

According to Deadline HollywoodStallone received $75,000 for writing and acting in “Rocky.”

When the movie became a hit, it ended up making around $2.5 million on the back end

Sophia Stallone, Jennifer Flavin, Sylvester Stallone, Scarlet Stallone, Sistine Stallone
Sylvester Stallone with wife Jennifer Flavin (second from left) and their daughters Sophia, Scarlet and Sixtine. He hopes to leave them the “Rocky” legacy.
Getty Images for A Sense of Home

“When he wrote ‘Rocky’ and starred in ‘Rocky,’ he was a brand new actor,” a source told The Post. “Younger actors are not given ownership. Rarely do studios give ownership to anyone. Studios want to own it. When he did the first “Rocky,” I don’t think anyone suspected what would happen to it.

“How [Winkler] have the rights, I don’t know…” said an irate-sounding Stallone during an interview on Sirius XM. “…It had to be all neutral. No one [was supposed to have] had a little more than the other. It’s not about the money for me. I want to leave it to my children. I wrote [‘Rocky’] … “

However, Stallone, who is said to be worth $400 million, adding that it “will never happen. I cannot forgive that.”

Winkler owns the six “Rocky” movies and other movies that stem from “Rocky”, including the “Creed” movies.

Michael B Jordan in "Creed III"
Michael B. Jordan stars in “Creed III,” a movie Stallone has no plans to see.
© MGM/courtesy of Everett Collect

Stallone, according to the Wrap, was “never written into the ‘Rocky’ property and later failed to claim the rights…”

Winkler can release movies built around different characters from the “Rocky” universe.

To add insult to injury, another “Rocky” spin-off, “Drago” – named after Russian boxer Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, who fought Stallone’s character in “Rocky IV” – is in pre-production.

Seemingly incensed by the news, Stallone took to Instagram in July 2022 and towed “This PATHETIC 94 year old PRODUCER and HIS MORONIC USEFUL VULTURE CHILDREN, Charles and David…” for “cleaning up THE BONES of another wonderful character I created without even telling me.”

Dolph Lundgren and Sylvester Stallone "Rocky IV"
Stallone’s character Rocky ties in with Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren in “Rocky IV.” Off screen, Stallone and Lundgren are said to be friends.
©MGM/courtesy of Everett Collectio

The Post reached out to Lundgren, a reported friend of Stallone’s who appeared in “Creed IIbut is not in the new one, for comment.

According to IMDB, Lundgren is rumored to play Drago in the sequel.

Stallone didn’t hold back on Instagram, posting in July, “I have nothing but respect for Dolph, but I wish HE would have told me what was going on behind my back. Keep your REAL friends close.”

Stallone played aging versions of Rocky in each of the first two ‘Creed’ movies, released in 2015 and 2018 (for the former, according to Procession, Stallone earned $10 million). But he is nowhere to be seen in the most recent canon entry.

Sylvester Stallone in "Creed II."
Stallone played an older Rocky in “Creed II.”
©Warner Bros/Courtesy of Everett C

“It’s been taken in a direction that’s very different than I would have taken,” Stallone told The Hollywood Reporter. “I am much more of a sentimentalist. I love my heroes getting beat up, but I just don’t want them going into that dark space. I just feel like people have enough darkness.

However, he admitted that it’s not in the movie his”a regrettable decision.”

However, Michael B. Jordan, who stars and directs in “Creed III,” doesn’t seem too disappointed about it.

“I have a following who love Creed for whom He is,” Jordan told the Los Angeles Times. “Some of these people don’t even know who Rocky is. They’ve never even seen the “Rocky” movies. But they’ve seen ‘Creed’.”

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