How Sylvester Stallone avoided earning just $25,000 from first Rocky film

Sylvester Stallone opened up on his earnings from the first three Rocky movies to reveal a contract clause that made him a millionaire from the 1976 original.

But it almost wasn’t to be for the Hollywood superstar.

Offered separate fees for his screenplay and starring role, Stallone was originally dismissed for the part of Rocky Balboa.

Eventually, Stallone fought his way to claiming the headliner for himself, thus avoiding only getting paid $25,000 simply for the screenplay.

Shrewdly, ‘Sly’ also negotiated a percentage of the Box Office takings. A move which saw Stallone take home seven figures.

“I got 10 net points. It was probably the first and last time anyone ever saw those pay off,” Stallone explained to Variety.

“I got $35,000 for the first one. The screenplay was about $25,000.

“(In all, I made) About $2.5 million, which for me was unbelievable. I was the luckiest man in the world.

“You have to understand that in the year before I did ‘Rocky’,” my total income was $1,400 for the entire year. I got $35 a week as an usher. About $100 a month.”

Adding his paycheck for what was his big-screen break, Stallone stated: “Then (I got) $360 a week before taxes.

“It shot for only 25 days. Luckily there were the WGA minimums. I made about $2,000 for acting.”

Obviously, ‘Rocky I‘ went global and made Stallone a huge star, not to mention an Academy Award in 1977 for Best Film.

Therefore, you’d think Stallone would have made millions to sign on for ‘Rocky II’. Not so.

“The second deal was for $75,000 all-in. About $120,000 in total,” confirmed Stallone, who again negotiated himself a net points deal to take home another massive payday.


It wasn’t until the likes of ‘Rocky III’ and ‘Rambo – First Blood’ in 1982 that the New Yorker was able to command those multi-million dollar advances.

During the 1980s, Stallone made a name for himself as the top name in the world, alongside former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In a world where bigger was better, Stallone and ‘Arnie’ fit that mold and subsequently dominated the action-star scene.