Rocky (film series)

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Rocky anthology dvd cover.jpg
DVD set containing the first five films
Based on Characters
by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Michael B. Jordan
(Full list below)
Release date
Running time
639 minutes
(Cumulative of 7 films)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $154 million
Box office $1.407 billion

Rocky is a series of American boxing sports-drama films. The first film, Rocky (1976), and its five sequels centered on the boxing career of the eponymous fictional character, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). For the seventh, Creed (2015), and its upcoming sequel, the series shifted its focus towards Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the son of Rocky's deceased rival and friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), trained by a now retired Rocky. All of the films were written by Stallone except for Creed, which was written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington. The original film and the fifth installment were directed by John G. Avildsen, Creed was directed by Coogler, Creed II will be directed by Steven Caple Jr., and Stallone directed the others.

The film series has grossed more than $1.4 billion at the worldwide box office. The original film, the third and the seventh have received Academy Award nominations. The first film won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing. Stallone himself has received Academy Award nominations for his portrayal of Rocky, in the first and seventh film. The soundtrack of the series has also received nominations for the first and third films.


Rocky (1976)[edit]

Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a small-time boxer who seems to be going nowhere in life, as he works day-in and day-out as a collector for a loan shark and fights in sleazy clubs for low pay rewards, for which Rocky is mocked and told that he's nothing but a 'bum,' especially by gym trainer Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith). At the same time, Rocky successfully courts Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire), a painfully shy woman with an alcoholic brother, Paulie (Burt Young). But when the world heavyweight champion boxer Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) chooses Rocky at random as his opponent in a title fight, Rocky realizes he now has the chance to prove that he's not worthless. With Adrian's support and Mickey becoming his trainer and manager, Rocky fights for his self-respect.

Rocky II (1979)[edit]

Soon after proving himself, even with a split decision loss to Apollo Creed, Rocky expects the good life to follow. He marries Adrian and begins spending the money he earned from the match. But after he fails at both endorsements and a series of low wage jobs, Rocky realizes the only way he can survive is to begin boxing again. Creed on the other hand, faces criticism from fans to overcome the fight. As a result, he publicly taunts Rocky into a rematch, for which Rocky trains once again with Mickey. In the fifteenth round, Rocky knocks Creed to the ground, falling to the canvas himself in the process. Both fighters struggle to get to their feet, but only Rocky is successful. For the first time, Rocky is declared the World Heavyweight Champion.

Rocky III (1982)[edit]

After winning the heavyweight title, Rocky takes advantage of his newfound wealth and fame, appearing in multiple advertisements and television programs, and relishing his new celebrity status. After defending the title multiple times, he is prepared to retire, but the number one contender, James "Clubber" Lang (played by Mr. T), challenges Rocky publicly. Rocky, after dealing with Mickey's heart attack before the fight, is overpowered by the stronger, hungrier Lang and is knocked out in the second round. Mickey passes away after the fight, and former rival Apollo Creed steps in, training Rocky to fight in Creed's old style (in his old Los Angeles gym) and to use more guile and skill. In the rematch, Rocky outboxes Lang, tiring the stronger fighter out and eventually knocking him out in the third round. After the fight, Apollo calls in his "favor" for training Rocky, which is a one-on-one match between the two of them with no cameras, no media, just man vs. man in the gym. The film ends as they each throw their first punch.

Rocky IV (1985)[edit]

After winning back his title from Clubber Lang, Rocky continues to live the good life, now that he and Apollo are good friends. However, a new fighter from the USSR, Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), has emerged and challenges Rocky to an exhibition match. Apollo fights instead, and the beating he takes from Drago ends with Apollo dying in Rocky's arms in the ring as Drago coldly watches. To avenge Apollo, Rocky challenges Drago to a match, which is to be held on Christmas Day in Moscow. In a montage replete with symbolism, Rocky is shown training in a remote cabin in Siberia with the help of Creed's old trainer Duke, his brother-in-law Paulie, and eventually Adrian, doing exercises such as chopping wood, lifting rocks, running in the snow and climbing a mountain, while Drago is seen in an advanced training facility running on treadmills, utilizing weightlifting machines and injecting steroids to boost his strength. During the fight, Rocky takes the worst beating of his life but refuses to fall, eventually winning over the foreign crowd with his display of courage and determination and he knocks Drago out with seconds left in the final round.

Rocky V (1990)[edit]

In the aftermath of his fight with Ivan Drago, Rocky Balboa is diagnosed with brain damage and is forced to retire from the ring. Additionally, the Balboa fortune is all gone due to an unscrupulous accountant. Rocky's family returns to their old neighborhood and Adrian returns to the pet store she used to work at, while (in a subplot) Rocky (Robert) Jr. (played by Sylvester Stallone's real son Sage) deals with bullying at his school and Rocky re-opens Mickey's old gym. While training other boxers, Rocky meets a young, hungry boxer named Tommy Gunn (played by real-life fighter Tommy Morrison) and begins training him which results in a strained relationship with Robert. Unfortunately, as Tommy begins his rise to fame under Rocky's wing, a sleazy fight promoter named George Washington Duke convinces Tommy that Rocky is holding him back and Tommy leaves Rocky for Duke. After Tommy wins the heavyweight title, he makes a short speech thanking Duke, and is met with jeers and the familiar chant of "Rocky" from the crowd. Seething from this insult, as well as being called by publicists as "Rocky's robot" and being told that he's "no Rocky Balboa," Tommy decides to seek out his former mentor for a final showdown. Rocky starts to walk away from the public challenge, but Paulie decides to let Tommy have a piece of his mind about how Tommy has treated Rocky and proceeds to punch Paulie. Rocky then challenges Tommy outside and the two proceed in a violent bare-knuckle street brawl, which Rocky wins. Rocky then proceeds to punch Duke for harassing him. In the end, Rocky and Robert reconcile as they run up the steps as father and son.

Rocky Balboa (2006)[edit]

In Rocky Balboa, sixteen years have passed since his final fight with his former protégé, Tommy "The Machine" Gunn. Long retired, Rocky Balboa still staggers around an ever-changing world; his son is grown and distant, Paulie is working back at the meat plant, and Rocky's wife Adrian has died. Rocky has opened a restaurant named after his wife, which he stocks with mementos of his prime as he tells his old fight stories to customers. But when a computer simulated fight on ESPN depicting a bout between a young Rocky Balboa and the current champion, Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver) reignites interest in the faded boxer, Rocky discovers he has not lost his fighting spirit and considers an opportunity to prove himself in the ring again. Rocky almost wins the fight but loses in a split decision just like the first film (in an alternate ending Rocky won). Rocky is last seen visiting his wife's grave saying, "Yo Adrian, we did it."

Creed (2015)[edit]

Adonis (Donnie) Johnson, the illegitimate son of the late former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, tracks down Rocky Balboa at Adrian's and asks Rocky to become his trainer. Rocky is reluctant, but eventually agrees. When word gets out that Donnie is Creed's illegitimate son, the handlers of world light heavyweight champion "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, who is forced into retirement by an impending prison term, offer to make Donnie the latter's final challenger—provided that he change his name to Adonis Creed. Donnie balks at first, wanting to forge his own legacy. However, he eventually agrees. While helping Donnie train, Rocky learns he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He is initially unwilling to undergo chemotherapy because it wasn't enough to save Adrian from ovarian cancer. Donnie persuades Rocky to seek treatment and continues training while Rocky recovers. In a battle reminiscent of Apollo and Rocky's first fight, Donnie fights Conlan in Conlan's hometown of Liverpool and surprises almost everyone by going the distance and pushing Conlan to his limit. Conlan wins by split decision, but Donnie wins the respect of Conlan and the crowd, with Conlan calling Donnie the future of the light heavyweight division. Returning to Philadelphia, Donnie and a recovering Rocky both make their way up the Philadelphia Museum steps and look at the skyline.

Creed II (2018)[edit]

In January 2016, Sylvester Stallone and MGM CEO Gary Barber confirmed that a sequel to Creed was in development. In January 2016, it was reported that the release date of the second Creed movie was tentatively set for November 2017. Coogler might not return to direct due to scheduling conflicts, but he has confirmed he will still be involved in some capacity.[1] In July of the same year, Stallone initially hinted at a plot with ties to Rocky IV, and then later signed on as screenwriter for the film.[2][3] Later that month, Stallone confirmed that the opponent from Rocky IV, Ivan Drago will factor into the film's plot.[4] Dolph Lundgren confirmed his casting in the film, with posts to his Instagram page, including videos of his training for conditioning.[5] By September, Stallone stated the film would be released in 2018.[6] On December 11, 2017, Steven Caple Jr. was confirmed as the director of the film, which began production in Spring 2018.[7]

Cast and characters[edit]

List indicator(s)

This table breaks down the main characters, and the actors who have portrayed them.

  • An empty, dark-grey cell indicates the character was not in the film.
  • An A indicates an appearance through archival footage and/or photographs
  • A P indicates that the character appears only through the use of still-photograph.
  • A Y indicates a role as a younger version of the character.
Character Films
Rocky Rocky II Rocky III Rocky IV Rocky V Rocky Balboa Creed Creed II
1976 1979 1982 1985 1990 2006 2015 2018
Robert "Rocky" Balboa Sylvester Stallone
Adrianna "Adrian" Balboa Talia Shire Talia ShireA
Paul "Paulie" Pennino Burt Young
Apollo Creed Carl Weathers Carl WeathersA Carl WeathersA
Michael "Mickey" Goldmill Burgess Meredith Burgess MeredithA Burgess Meredith Burgess MeredithA
Tony "Duke" Evers Tony Burton Tony BurtonA
Mary Anne Creed Lavelle Roby Sylvia Meals Sylvia Meals Phylicia Rashad
Marie Jodi Letizia Geraldine Hughes
Tony Gazzo Joe Spinell Joe SpinellA
Spider Rico Pedro Lovell Pedro LovellA Pedro Lovell
Robert Balboa, Jr. Seargeoh Stallone Ian Fried Rocky Krakoff Sage Stallone Milo Ventimiglia Sage StalloneP
James "Clubber" Lang Mr. T Mr. TA
Ivan Drago Dolph Lundgren Dolph LungrenA Dolph Lundgren
Tommy "The Machine" Gunn Tommy Morrison
George Washington Duke Richard Gant
Mason "The Line" Dixon Antonio Tarver
Adonis "Donnie" Creed Michael B. Jordan
Alex HendersonY
Michael B. Jordan
Bianca Porter Tessa Thompson
"Pretty" Ricky Conlan Tony Bellew
Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler Andre Ward
Tony "Little Duke" Evers Wood Harris
Viktor Drago Florian Munteanu

Crew & production details[edit]

Film Director Producer Writer Music Cinematographer Editor
Rocky John G. Avildsen Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Sylvester Stallone Bill Conti James Crabe Richard Halsey
Rocky II Sylvester Stallone Bill Butler Stanford Allen
Janice Hampton
Rocky III Mark Warner
Don Zimmerman
Rocky IV Vince DiCola John Wheeler
Don Zimmerman
Rocky V John G. Avildsen Bill Conti Steven Poster John G. Avildsen
Robert Ferreti
Michael Knue
Rocky Balboa Sylvester Stallone Charles Winkler
Irwin Winkler
William Chartoff
Kevin King Templeton
Clark Mathis Sean Albertson
Creed Ryan Coogler Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Sylvester Stallone
Kevin King-Templeton
William Chartoff
Charles Winkler
David Winkler
Ryan Coogler
Aaron Covington
Ryan Coogler
Ludwig Göransson Maryse Alberti Claudia Castello
Michael Shawver
Creed II Steven Caple Jr. Irwin Winkler
Charles Winkler
William Chartoff
Sylvester Stallone
David Winkler
Kevin King-Templeton
Sylvester Stallone
Cheo Hodari Coker
Kramer Morgenthau Michael Kahn
Saira Haider


Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office gross Box office ranking Budget Ref(s)
North America Other
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Rocky November 21, 1976 $117,235,147 $107,764,853 $225,000,000 #476
#76 (A)
$1.1 million [8][9]
Rocky II June 15, 1979 $85,182,160 $115,000,000 $200,182,160 #755 $7 million [9][10]
Rocky III May 28, 1982 $125,049,125 $270,000,000[11] #426
#146 (A)
$17 million [9][12]
Rocky IV November 27, 1985 $127,873,716 $172,500,000 $300,373,716 #457 #436 $28 million [9][13]
Rocky V November 16, 1990 $40,946,358 $79,000,000 $119,946,358 #1,811 $42 million [9][14]
Rocky Balboa December 20, 2006 $70,269,899 $85,450,189 $155,720,088 #998 $24 million [9][15]
Creed November 25, 2015 $109,767,581 $63,800,000 $173,567,581 #535 $35 million [16]
Total $676,323,986 $623,515,042 $1,444,789,903 #26
#12 (A)
$154 million [9][17][18]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates information is not available for the film.
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).
  • Rocky III gross includes 1983 re-releases.[19]

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Rocky 93% (57 reviews)[20]
Rocky II 74% (27 reviews)[21]
Rocky III 65% (34 reviews)[22]
Rocky IV 38% (45 reviews)[23] 42 (11 reviews)[24]
Rocky V 27% (33 reviews)[25] 55 (16 reviews)[26] A[27]
Rocky Balboa 76% (177 reviews)[28] 63 (36 reviews)[29] B+[27]
Creed 95% (274 reviews)[30] 82 (42 reviews)[31] A[27]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.


At the 49th Academy Awards, Rocky was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Sylvester Stallone was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay, with Talia Shire being nominated for Best Actress, and both Burgess Meredith and Burt Young being nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Gonna Fly Now was nominated for Best Original Song, and Rocky itself was nominated for Best Sound Editing, and won Best Picture, Best Director for John G. Alvidson, and Best Editing.

At the 55th Academy Awards, the song "Eye of the Tiger" from Rocky III was nominated for Best Original Song.

On December 7, 2010, Sylvester Stallone was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum, for paying tribute to boxers in writing and creating the underdog character of Rocky.[32]

On January 10, 2016, Sylvester Stallone won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Creed.

At the 88th Academy Awards, Sylvester Stallone was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Creed, the film's only nomination.

In total, the Rocky series has received twelve academy awards nominations, winning three.

Award Rocky Rocky II Rocky III Rocky IV Rocky V Rocky Balboa Creed
Picture Won
Director Won
Actor Nominated (Sylvester Stallone)
Actress Nominated (Talia Shire)
Supporting Actor Nominated (Burgess Meredith) Nominated (Sylvester Stallone)
Nominated (Burt Young)
Original Screenplay Nominated
Film Editing Won
Original Song Nominated ("Gonna Fly Now") Nominated ("Eye of the Tiger")
Sound Nominated


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  26. ^ "Rocky V Reviews". Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
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  30. ^ "Rating for "Creed"". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 29, 2015. 
  31. ^ "Creed Reviews". Retrieved November 20, 2015. 
  32. ^ Webmaster. "Stallone Inducted into Boxing Hall of Fame". Retrieved April 6, 2012.