Okay okay, everyone loves Rocky IV, mostly because it was responsible for ending the Cold War (never mind that whole wall thing, this was it!). But let’s all agree right now that Rocky IV should have been the end of things for the Italian Stallion.
Rocky V is an abomination of a film, a complete joke, and Rocky Balboa is fine but completely forgettable. Now, a new spinoff/sequel film about Apollo Creed’s son is on the way. And wouldn’t you know it, Sly Stallone has found a way to cram his Rocky character in there too.
Here we go, a few things to know about each of these last Rocky films…
1. According to Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Carl Weathers really did not get along and got into an altercation during filming. Lundgren threw Weathers across the ring before it was broken up.
2. It took Dolph Lundgren about six months to win the part and was first turned down by the casting directors for being too tall. Later, he got the chance to send photos and meet Sylvester Stallone, who told him he had a good chance to get the part, but advised him to gain twenty pounds of muscle.
3. Stallone thought it would be a good idea for he and Lundgren to actually hit each other in the shooting of the final scenes. After one day of shooting, Stallone had difficulty breathing and was taken to a nearby emergency room. It was discovered that his blood pressure was over 200, and he had to be flown on a low-altitude flight to a Santa Monica Hospital where he remained in intensive care for eight days. Lungren had punched him so hard in the chest, Stallone’s heart slammed up against his breastbone and began to swell, cutting off the blood supply and restricting the oxygen flow throughout the body.
4. The training scenes set in Russia were actually filmed in Wyoming; the farm is located in Jackson Hole, and most of the exterior shots were filmed in the Grand Teton National Park. The fight itself was shot at the PNE Forum at Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia.
5. James Brown is seen performing the song “Living In America” in ceremonies prior to the Creed-Drago match. The song was released as a single from the movie’s soundtrack, and would become Brown’s first Top 40 single in ten years, as well as the last of his career.
6. Rocky IV is still the highest-grossing Rocky film, earning upwards of $300 million.
7. In an interview with Jonathan Ross, Sylvester Stallone was asked to rate each of the Rocky movies out of 10. He gave this movie zero.
8. According to director John G. Avildsen, when shooting the picture, he felt that cinematographer Steven Poster was over-lighting many of the scenes (easily one of the biggest problems), and thus negating the realism of the piece. He told Poster he wanted the film to look more like Rocky, which had been lit by James Crabe, oftentimes using a single spotlight to light an entire scene. Poster told Avildsen that the original film “looked like a cheap documentary”. Avildsen responded to this piece of criticism by smiling and saying, “Exactly.”
9. Sylvester Stallone’s salary for the first Rocky film was $23,000. His salary for Rocky V was $15 million. That represents a pay rise of 65,117% and is estimated to be one of the largest pay rises in Hollywood history for any actor.
10. Originally, the scene where Rocky is knocked out during his fight with Tommy Gunn had Rocky remembering the fight with Clubber Lang and, afterward, he sees Mickey as a hallucination on top of the subway tracks telling him not to give up. Ths scene didn’t make the final cut, and it sounds utterly ridiculous.
11. Sylvester Stallone originally toyed with the idea of killing Rocky off at the end of the film. The plan was that Rocky would die in an ambulance on his way to the hospital with Adrian by his side. At the hospital, she would have announced to the world of his passing and his spirit would live on with a final flashback of the famous scene of him running up the steps. Stallone ultimately abandoned this concept and rewrote the ending.
12. This is the only sequel in the Rocky series not directed by Sylvester Stallone.
13. The very last scene to be shot was Rocky’s sprint up the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sylvester Stallone purposely left this shot until the end because he knew it would be such an emotional experience due to the iconic nature of the scene, and he felt it was a good way for him to say goodbye to the character. As he puts it himself, “that run is the distillation of the entire Rocky experience.”
14. The film was shot in 38 days. The very first thing to be shot was the fight between Dixon and Rocky. This was done because Sylvester Stallone’s training (which had been going on for six months) had to stop once the film went into production and he began to concentrate on directing.
15. The film contains flashbacks from every Rocky film except Rocky V.
16. Sylvester Stallone said that he decided to make this movie because he was so unhappy with the ending of Rocky V. He actually wanted to make this film back in 1999, but it would not get green-lighted until six years later.
17. Sylvester Stallone initially wanted Roy Jones Jr. for the role of Mason Dixon, which went to Antonio Tarver. Stallone claims that he left 31 phone messages for Jones but never received a response.
18. According to her gravestone, Adrian Balboa’s death was on 11 January 2002.