Sylvester Stallone thought Rocky Balboa was dead and buried after his Rocky V movie bombed disastrously.
Stallone revealed how hard he had to fight to get the sixth installment of his franchise over the line.
‘Rocky Balboa’ was released in late 2006 and made $125 million in profits at the box office. Stallone was given a budget of just $25 million to produce.
As it happened, he made the movie for one million less.
But with his career in a nosedive and few offers on the table, bringing back the down-and-out boxer wasn’t easy.
“I did a film called ‘Daylight,'” Stallone explained in an interview with Variety. “The premise was really good, but it didn’t deliver. So you shoulder that.
“And I had done “Cop Land” a little bit before that, which I thought would be a good acting exercise, and I worked with the best director I ever worked with — James Mangold.
“I loved the film, but it actually worked in reverse. It was pretty good critically. But the fact that it didn’t do a lot of box office, again, it fomented the opinion that I had my moment. I was going the way of the dodo bird and the Tasmanian tiger.
“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 character they love.
Asked if he was ready to give up on ‘Rocky’ entirely at that point, Stallone answered: “No, then I thought I’d like to try and salvage “Rocky” and go out on a good note.
“When you’re 60 years old wanting to play a boxer, following a sequel that bombed [Rocky V] 15 years earlier, there’s zero chance.
“I went to the studios. And Alex Yemenidjian, at the time, was running MGM. He told me that no one wanted to make it, absolutely no one.
“There was such skepticism, and rightly so. It’s like doing ‘Godfather 20.’ – I get it.
“The core audience had grown up and was gone. I said it’s not about boxing — it’s about grief and loss. He finally lost his love, which is the end of the equation for him.
“The only way he knows how to deal with it is cathartically through fighting. He says, ‘I got this beast inside,’ and it worked.”
On being fired by his management team and agency before Rocky VI when his career plummeted, Stallone added: “I understand it now being on that side of the desk. They couldn’t do anything for me. They couldn’t get traction.
“But they said, ‘Look; you should maybe go and find someone else because we can’t do it.’ It was about 2002. Nothing was cooking for me for about six years.
“I think it happened because I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been with making certain career choices.
“For example, I did a film called ‘D-Tox,’ and it had a really good cast. But one week into the film, the producers decided to change tack. The film had a cloud over it.
“It sat on the shelf for two years, and that was kind of the beginning of Stallone is [over].”
Further rumors that ‘Rocky VII’ was in Stallone’s thoughts were confirmed in late 2019. However, Covid hit, and those plans went on the shelf.
Instead, Creed III was put into production without Stallone’s involvement leading many to predict Rocky Balboa would never return.