Date: 16th December 2002

Stallone Steps Back Into Ring for Rocky VI

The bell may be ready to ring for round six in the long-running series of Rocky movies that made Sylvester "Sly" Stallone a household name and Hollywood star.
MGM has signed Stallone to write a Rocky VI screenplay, with an update to the story of the scrappy Philadelphia boxer who rises from a club fighter to champion of the world, gets knocked down, then rises again, an MGM spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Details were sketchy because Stallone, who wrote and directed 1976's original Rocky, has just been hired, but the idea is to avoid the big-budget style of Hollywood sequels and return to the small, independent film feel of the original.

Early plans have Stallone, 56, portraying the fighter Rocky Balboa, again. But this time, he is running a youth center when he is lured out of retirement for one last fight.

The first Rocky was a labor of love for Stallone, who, at that time, had only been in bit parts in movies, such as 1974's The Lords of Flatbush. Not only did he write Rocky, he directed it and played Balboa.

Rocky was made for just over $1 million and raked in $220 million in worldwide ticket sales. It earned critical acclaim and won the Oscar for best movie.

Rocky II followed in 1979, and in the subsequent years, MGM, Stallone, and producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff teamed up for more movies, culminating in 1990's Rocky V. All the sequels grossed more than $100 million in ticket sales, except for the final one, which took in a disappointing $40 million.

The idea of making Rocky VI a low-budget production would keep to MGM's two-pronged approach of producing sequels of popular titles already in its 4,000-film library and staying away from expensive productions that, if they flop, can hurt the company's earnings.

Source: Press Release