Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Caple Jr.|
by Sylvester Stallone
|Music by||Ludwig Göransson|
|Box office||$214.1 million|
Creed II is a 2018 American sports drama film directed by Steven Caple Jr., and written by Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor, from a story by Sascha Penn and Cheo Hodari Coker. A sequel to Creed (2015) and the eighth installment in the Rocky film series, it stars Michael B. Jordan, Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris, and Phylicia Rashad. Creed writer-director Ryan Coogler serves as an executive producer on the film. The film follows a fight over 33 years in the making, as Adonis Creed meets a new adversary in the ring: Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago, the powerful athlete who killed Adonis' father Apollo Creed.
A Creed sequel was confirmed in January 2016, although due to both Coogler and Jordan's involvement in Black Panther, the film was delayed, with Coogler ultimately being replaced by Caple. Stallone completed the script in July 2017 and announced Lundgren would be reprising his role as Drago, and filming began in Philadelphia in March 2018, lasting through June.
Creed II was released in the United States by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. on November 21, 2018. The film grossed $214 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the performances, character development, and Caple's direction, while noting its predictability.
In 2018, three years after his loss to "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, Adonis Creed peels off 6 straight wins, culminating in a victory over Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler to win the WBC World Heavyweight Championship. Now a worldwide star, Adonis proposes to his girlfriend, Bianca Taylor, who agrees to marry him. When Bianca suggests starting a new life together in Los Angeles, Adonis is reluctant to leave Philadelphia as it would mean leaving Rocky.
Ivan Drago, the former Soviet boxer who killed Adonis' father, Apollo Creed, in the ring thirty-three years earlier, sees an opportunity to regain lost glory after his 1985 loss to Rocky Balboa: assisted by promoter Buddy Marcelle, Ivan pits his son, Viktor Drago, against Adonis. When Rocky refuses to support Adonis' decision to accept Viktor's challenge, Adonis leaves for Los Angeles.
Adonis and Bianca settle down in a luxurious apartment in Los Angeles close to Adonis' adoptive mother and Apollo's widow, Mary Anne. As they adjust to their new life and prepare for the upcoming match with Viktor, Bianca learns that she is pregnant. Adonis recruits Tony "Little Duke" Evers, son of his father's trainer and later Rocky's trainer, but overwhelmed with his life’s recent developments, he rushes into the match and is badly injured. Viktor is disqualified for hitting Adonis while he is down, allowing Adonis to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Viktor becomes extremely popular in Russia and wins a series of fights with top billing.
His body and ego shattered, Adonis becomes increasingly disconnected from Bianca. Mary Anne reaches out to Rocky, who reconciles with Adonis and agrees to train him for a rematch against Viktor, who is suffering torturous physical tests by his father. Bianca gives birth to a daughter, Amara, and Rocky is named her godfather. Adonis and Bianca learn Amara is deaf, inherited from her mother's progressive degenerative hearing disorder.
While Viktor taunts Adonis publicly, he faces constant pressure from his father, who enjoys the attentions of the media and various Russian delegates. At a state dinner, he and Ivan meet Ludmilla, his mother and Ivan's ex-wife, for the first time in several years after she abandoned them after Ivan’s loss to Rocky. Enraged at the sight of his mother, Viktor chastises Ivan for his interactions with the people who made them outcasts. Meanwhile, Rocky and Little Duke retrain Adonis in a decrepit location in the California desert, focusing on fighting from within and training Adonis's body to absorb the heavy impact he will receive from Viktor in the ring.
In Moscow, the rematch is considerably more balanced as a more controlled and focused Adonis exchanges equal blows with Viktor. Since Viktor is accustomed to winning by knockout, his fights have never lasted beyond the fourth round, which Adonis uses to his advantage as he endures Viktor's punishment, even after his ribs are broken. In the tenth round, Adonis unleashes sequence after sequence of effective blows and knocks Viktor down twice. Ludmilla departs after the second knockdown, upsetting Viktor, and Ivan comes to terms with Viktor's earlier statements. With Viktor exhausted, cornered and receiving multiple strikes without defending himself, but unwilling to go down, Ivan throws in the towel, conceding the fight to Adonis to protect his son. Ivan assures the distraught Viktor it is okay that he lost, and embraces him. As Bianca enters the ring to celebrate with Adonis and Little Duke, Rocky recuses himself, telling Adonis "it's your time", and takes a seat to watch them from outside the ring.
Viktor and Ivan later train together back in Ukraine. Rocky travels to Vancouver to make peace with his own estranged son, Robert, and meets his grandson Logan for the first time, noting how much he looks like Adrian. Adonis visits Apollo's grave where he makes peace with his deceased father and the burden of carrying on his legacy, as he and Bianca introduce his granddaughter, who is sporting a new set of hearing aids.
- Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed: An underdog but talented heavyweight boxer, the son of world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. He goes by the name Donnie Johnson.
- Sylvester Stallone as Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Sr.: A two-time world heavyweight champion and Apollo's best friend and former rival who becomes Adonis' avuncular trainer and mentor. He owns and operates an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia named after his deceased wife, Adrian.
- Tessa Thompson as Bianca: Adonis's girlfriend, who since becomes his fiancée and the mother of his child. Also a singer-songwriter with progressive hearing loss.
- Wood Harris as Tony "Little Duke" Evers: One of Wheeler's assistant trainers. His father, Tony "Duke" Evers, was a father-figure for Apollo as well as his trainer/manager when Apollo became world heavyweight champion. He then became one of Rocky's trainers after Apollo's death. He trains Adonis for his first match with Viktor after Rocky refuses, and acts as an assistant trainer for the rematch.
- Russell Hornsby as Buddy Marcelle: A boxing promoter who sets up the match between Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago.
- Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed: Apollo's widow and Adonis' stepmother, who takes in Adonis as a child following the death of Adonis' biological mother.
- Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago: Russia's former prize champion boxer, who with the secret use of steroids and advanced training, gained worldwide attention due to his brute strength that had not been seen before. Years prior, he killed Apollo Creed during an exhibition boxing match, and was later defeated by Rocky. Having been disgraced in Russia, he relocated to Ukraine to raise his son Viktor, whom he also trained to box.
- Florian "Big Nasty" Munteanu as Viktor Drago: Ivan's son who is also a boxer, and Adonis' new rival.
- Andre Ward as Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler: A heavyweight boxer and Adonis' rival whom Adonis beats to become the heavyweight champion.
- Brigitte Nielsen as Ludmilla Drago: Ivan's ex-wife and Viktor's mother who left the pair during the latter's infancy.
- Milo Ventimiglia as Robert Balboa: Rocky's estranged son, who moved to Vancouver in the period between Rocky Balboa and Creed and is now a father himself.
- Robbie Johns as Logan Balboa: Robert "Rocky Jr." Balboa's son and Rocky Balboa's grandson.
Development and writing
On January 5, 2016, Sylvester Stallone and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CEO Gary Barber confirmed to Variety that a sequel to Creed was in development. The same month, Stallone posed the possibility of seeing Milo Ventimiglia appear in the sequel, reprising his role as Rocky's son Robert Balboa from Rocky Balboa. Ventimiglia previously revealed during the development of Creed that he was open to returning to the franchise, stating, "I'll tell you what, if they invited me, I'd love to be there. If they didn't, I wouldn't be offended." It was revealed in April 2018 that Ventimiglia would have an appearance in the film. On January 11, 2016, Barber revealed that Ryan Coogler would not be returning due to scheduling conflicts, because he was attached to Black Panther, though he would return as executive producer. Michael B. Jordan's schedule ended up being delayed due to Black Panther, as he was starring in that film. In July 2017, Stallone confirmed that he had completed the script for the sequel, and also revealed that Ivan Drago would be featured in the film. In October 2017, it was announced that Stallone would direct and produce the film. However, in December 2017, it was reported that Steven Caple Jr. would instead direct the film with Tessa Thompson confirmed to reprise her role of Bianca, Creed's love interest. In January 2018, Romanian amateur boxer Florian Munteanu was cast in the film to play Drago's son with Dolph Lundgren set to reprise his role of Drago. In March 2018, Russell Hornsby joined the cast while Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, and Andre Ward were confirmed to reprise their roles from the prior film.
Vince DiCola, composer of Rocky IV, was originally rumored to return to score the film, but stated in a Facebook post: "I would have loved to return, however that's just how Hollywood works. We don't always get what we want."
Principal photography began March 2018. Filming occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the city's Port Richmond neighborhood, and was completed on June 7, 2018. Some scenes were filmed at the Grey Towers Castle at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.
On December 21, 2018, it was announced the film would receive a January 4, 2019 release in China, the first Rocky film to ever receive a theatrical release in the country.
Creed II grossed $115.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $98.4 million in other territories, for a total worldwide gross of $214.1 million, against a production budget of $50 million.
In the United States and Canada, Creed II was released alongside Ralph Breaks the Internet and Robin Hood, as well as the wide expansion of Green Book, and was projected to gross $44–54 million from 3,350 theaters in its five-day opening weekend. The film made $11.6 million on its first day, including $3.7 million from Tuesday night previews (the second best pre-Thanksgiving total ever behind fellow release Ralph Breaks the Internet's $3.8 million and marking a 64% improvement over the first film's $1.4 million preview total). It went on to debut to $35.3 million in its opening weekend (a five-day total of $55.8 million), finishing second at the box office and marking the best Thanksgiving opening for a live-action film, besting Enchanted ($49.1 million) and Four Christmases ($46.1 million). In its second and third weekends the film made $16.8 million and $10 million, finishing in third both times. Over the five-day Christmas frame (its fifth week of release), the film passed the $109.7 million domestic total made by the first film.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 272 reviews, with an average rating of 6.91/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Creed II's adherence to franchise formula adds up to a sequel with few true surprises, but its time-tested generational themes still pack a solid punch." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on reviews from 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, the same score earned by its predecessor, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 87% positive score and a 72% "definite recommend".
Odie Henderson of RogerEbert.com gave the film three out of four stars, stating that "Creed II falls victim to the sins of sequelitis—it's bigger, louder and more grandiose than its predecessor—yet manages to right itself by not losing focus on the humanity of its central characters." Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the film "rousing and effective" and wrote "Creed II has been made with heart and skill, and Jordan invests each moment with such fierce conviction that he makes it all seem like it matters. Even if it all mattered a notable notch more in Creed." Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a "B", praising Stallone's performance and saying: "Kramer Morgenthau's cinematography lacks the showy steadicam acrobatics of Creed, but the climactic battle between Adonis and Viktor still delivers a dazzling light show that dovetails right into the visceral mayhem of the battle, captured from so many angles some viewers may reel from the punches themselves."
In July 2019, it was announced that the Rocky franchise as a whole will continue with another mentor-student film à la Creed, set post-Creed II in which Rocky Balboa would befriend a young fighter who is also an undocumented immigrant. Stallone stated: "Rocky meets a young, angry person who got stuck in this country when he comes to see his sister. He takes him into his life, and unbelievable adventures begin, and they wind up south of the border. It's very, very timely." In addition he announced the development of a Rocky prequel television series.
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