Rocky III

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Rocky III
Rocky iii poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Produced by
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 28, 1982 (1982-05-28)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $270 million

Rocky III is a 1982 American sports-drama film written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. It is the third installment in the Rocky film series, and the second in the franchise to be directed by Stallone.

The movie features returning co-stars Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Talia Shire and Burt Young. Rocky III also marks the film debuts of Mr. T as James "Clubber" Lang, and of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan as the supporting character "Thunderlips".

Rocky III is the first installment in the series to be distributed by MGM/UA rather than United Artists alone. In 1980, United Artists, who owned the rights to the Rocky films, made Heaven's Gate, a film which cost $44 million and made only $3 million. In response, United Artists' owner, Transamerica, sold United Artists to MGM, forming MGM/UA in 1981.

The film's main theme "Eye of the Tiger", was written by the group Survivor and became a smash hit single, topping the U.S. Billboard charts and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.


In the three years since winning the world heavyweight title, Rocky Balboa has had a string of ten successful title defenses and has seen his fame, wealth and celebrity increase. While unveiling a statue of himself at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky is publicly challenged by Clubber Lang, a ferocious new boxer rapidly climbing the ranks. Lang accuses Rocky of intentionally accepting challenges from lesser opponents, and after he makes a sexual remark toward Rocky's wife Adrian, his challenge is accepted.

Rocky's trainer Mickey initially wants no part of it and admits to the champion that Lang was right: he had handpicked Rocky's opponents to protect him and to ensure Rocky remained successful and healthy. He also informs Rocky that Lang is young and hungry and that Rocky has no chance of beating him, as he has not retained his edge as a fighter, telling him "The worst thing that could happen to a fighter happened to you: you got civilized." Rocky manages to convince Mickey to train him regardless, but his Las Vegas-style training camp is filled with distractions and Rocky clearly does not take the challenge seriously.

Lang and Rocky meet at Philadelphia's Spectrum. During a melee backstage before the fight, Mickey is violently shoved out of the way by Lang and suffers a heart attack. A now distraught Rocky wants to call the fight off, but Mickey angrily urges him on while he stays in the dressing room. By the time of the fight, Rocky is both enraged and severely distracted by his mentor's condition. The fight begins with Rocky pounding Lang with several huge blows, going for an early knockout, but the stronger and better prepared Lang is unfazed and quickly takes charge, dominating Rocky and knocking him out with a haymaker in the second round. Beaten, Rocky makes his way back to the dressing room and to the dying Mickey. Kneeling at his side, Rocky speaks to his friend, telling him that the fight ended in the second round by a knockout, which Mickey misinterprets as a win for Rocky, shortly before dying.

Stopping by Mickey's closed gym, Rocky is confronted by his former nemesis, Apollo Creed, who witnessed the fight as a guest analyst, and offers to help train him for a rematch with Lang in exchange for "a big favor." At first, Rocky is too demoralized to put forth his best efforts, which frustrates Apollo, but pulls himself together after Adrian helps him come to terms with Mickey's death. Apollo then trains Rocky at the gym where he once trained - Tough Gym in Los Angeles - and infuses Rocky's direct style with more of the skill and speed that is his trademark.

The rematch is held at Madison Square Garden. Apollo lends Rocky his American flag trunks that he wore during their first fight. At the start of the fight, Rocky sprints from his corner, fighting with a level of skill and spirit that no one, including Lang, expected. As a result, Rocky completely dominates the first round, demonstrating his new-found speed. After the bell, Lang is in a fit of rage over what has just happened and has to be restrained by his trainers.

In round 2, Lang gains the upper hand and Rocky adopts an entirely different strategy that bewilders Apollo by intentionally taking a beating from Lang, even getting knocked down twice but getting up both times before he is counted out while taunting Lang that he cannot knock him out.

In the third round, Apollo tells Paulie, "He's getting killed!" but Paulie sees what Rocky is doing and explains, "Oh, no, no, no. He's not getting killed, he's getting mad!" Lang, who is used to winning fights swiftly with knockouts in the early rounds, becomes increasingly angry over Rocky's taunts and quickly exhausts his energy trying to finish Rocky off with repeated knockout blows, which Rocky quickly begins to block or dodge entirely. With Lang winded and vulnerable, Rocky seizes the opportunity and throws his energy into increasingly damaging combinations on a winded and outboxed Lang, capping off with four huge straight left haymakers and a right hook to the head. As a result, Lang goes down for the count and Rocky becomes the heavyweight champion for the second time in his career.

Afterwards, Rocky fulfills Apollo's vague "big favor": a private rematch with him at Micky's gym. However, this time they are fighting in the spirit of friendly competition rather than as fierce rivals. The film concludes with both of the fighters throwing their first punch simultaneously.


  • Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, "The Italian Stallion": Heavyweight Champion of the World, who continues to defend his title against other fighters. When Lang challenges Rocky and wins, after the surprising death of Mickey, the public cries for a rematch. As Rocky is reluctant, former rival Apollo Creed befriends and trains The Italian Stallion in his preparation to take on Clubber Lang.
  • Talia Shire as Adrian Balboa: Rocky's wife, and supporter through his boxing career.
  • Burt Young as Paulie Pennino: Rocky's friend, and brother-in-law.
  • Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed: Former Heavyweight Champion, and rival to, who agrees to train him after the death of Mickey; in the process the two become very close friends.
  • Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill: Rocky's friend, manager and trainer, who unexpectedly dies; a former bantamweight fighter from the 1920s and the owner of the local boxing gym
  • Tony Burton as Tony "Duke" Evers: Apollo Creed's father-figure, friend, trainer and manager, who helps in training Rocky with Apollo.
  • Mr. T as Clubber Lang: The underdog challenger who beats Rocky in a fight, after the unexpected death of Mickey. The public's general dislike for him, and lack of respect for him as Heavyweight Champion of the World, leads to a rematch with Rocky. As an orphan at an early age, he spent most of his childhood on the streets of Chicago's Southside, as well as time in orphanages and juvenile facilities. Later as an adult, Clubber was sent to prison for five years, for one possible count of a felony and/or assault charge. During his time being served he discovered boxing as a way to let out his frustrations and talent, which leads to the events of Rocky III.
  • Ian Fried as Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Jr.: Rocky and Adrian's only child.
  • Hulk Hogan as "Thunderlips": The current Wrestling Champion, who fights Rocky in a charity fighting event.

In addition to the main cast several others had cameo appearances. Bill Baldwin and Stu Nahan returned as the fight commentators for the two Rocky-Lang fights. Veteran ring announcer Jimmy Lennon was the ring announcer for the first Lang fight, while boxing judge Marty Denkin was the referee. Lou Filippo returned for his third appearance as a referee during the second Lang fight. Dennis James and Jim Healy appeared as the commentators for the Rocky-Thunderlips match, while LeRoy Neiman was the guest ring announcer. Jim Hill was a TV announcer. A then unknown Morgan Freeman auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Lang's trainer. Footage of Stallone's guest appearance on The Muppet Show was incorporated in the opening sequence.


In preparation for film, Stallone claims to have got his body fat percentage down to his all-time low of 2.8% and weighed 155 lbs. He stated that he ate only ten egg whites and a piece of toast a day, having a fruit every third day. His training consisted of a two-mile jog in the morning followed by a two-hour weight training, a nap during the afternoon followed by 18 rounds of sparring, another weight training and finishing the day with a swim.[1]

Bronze statue[edit]

A bronze statue of Rocky, called "ROCKY", was commissioned by Sylvester Stallone and created by A. Thomas Schomberg in 1981. Three statues were created, and one was placed on the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the filming of Rocky III. After filming was complete, a furious debate erupted in Philadelphia between the Art Museum and the City's Art Commission over the meaning of "art". Claiming the statue was not "art" but rather a "movie prop" the city considered various alternative locations and settled upon the front of the Spectrum in South Philadelphia. It was later returned to the Art Museum where it was used in the filming of Rocky V, as well as Mannequin and Philadelphia. Afterward, it was again moved to the front of the Spectrum. The statue was returned to the museum's steps on September 8, 2006.

In Rocky Balboa, when Rocky told Paulie that he is going to make a comeback, Paulie suggested "You mad because they took down your statue?" which Rocky denied.

The third of the three statues was listed on eBay in early 2005, with a starting bid of $5 million. It was being auctioned to raise funds for the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History. It failed to sell and was listed again for $3 million; after receiving only one bid, which turned out to be fraudulent, it has been re-listed several times for $1 million.[2] The statues weigh 800 pounds each and stand about 8'6" tall.


Box office[edit]

Rocky III was an enormous box office success and surpassed the gross of its predecessor.[3] The film grossed $16,015,408 in its opening weekend[4] and earned $125,049,125 during its North American theatrical run,[5] becoming the fourth highest grossing film of 1982;[6] its worldwide box-office earnings stand at around $270 million.[7]

Critical response[edit]

Rocky III received a generally positive reception from critics. The film holds a 63% rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[8] Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel attributed the film's success to the positive reaction from critics and audiences towards Rocky II and the production team's "quality control" of that film. Siskel stated "if you want a hugely successful series, then make sure that the second one is a winner".[9]


Rocky III was nominated for both the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Motion Picture at the Image Awards. The film's theme song Eye of the Tiger was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, the BAFTA Film Awards and the Golden Globes.[10] On the negative side, Mr. T was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star.[11]

Other media[edit]


A novelization by Robert E. Hoban was published by Ballantine Books in 1982.[12]


Rocky III
Soundtrack album by Bill Conti
Released 1982
Length 32:00
Label Liberty
Singles from Rocky III
  1. "Eye of the Tiger"
    Released: May 29, 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 1.5/5 stars[13]
  1. "Eye of the Tiger" (by Survivor) – 3:53
  2. "Take You Back (Tough Gym)" – 1:48
  3. "Pushin'" – 3:10
  4. "Decision" – 3:20
  5. "Mickey" – 4:42
  6. "Take You Back" – 3:37
  7. "Reflections" – 2:05
  8. "Gonna Fly Now" – 2:52
  9. "Adrian" – 1:42
  10. "Conquest" – 4:40
  • Frank Stallone – vocals (2, 3, 6)
  • Ray Pizzi – sax (3)
  • Jerry Hey – trumpet (3)
  • Vincent DeRosa – French horn (5)
  • Mike Lang – piano (5)
  • DeEtta Little, Nelson Pigford – vocals (8)

The version of "Eye of the Tiger" that appears in the film is actually a demo—the "finished" version is what appears on the soundtrack. Also missing from the soundtrack is the instrumental version of the song played when Rocky is training in Apollo's old gym.

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1982) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[14] 36
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[15] 5
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[16] 9
US Billboard 200[17] 15


  1. ^ Muscle & Fitness, Sept, 2004 by Michael Berg
  2. ^ "International Institute for Sport and Olympic History - A Non-profit, Educational Corporation under 501c3, IISOH". 
  3. ^ "Box Office History for Rocky Movies". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved January 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Box Office and Business Information for Rocky III". Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Box Office Information for Rocky III". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  6. ^ "1982 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ Scott, Vernon (November 12, 1982). "Stallone found new life in new film". The Bulletin (Bend, Oregon). Retrieved July 4, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Rocky III Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  9. ^ Siskel & Ebert - At the Movies: The Secret of Star Wars on YouTube. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  10. ^ "Rocky III: Award Wins and Nominations". Retrieved June 11, 2010. 
  11. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 
  12. ^ "Rocky III". 
  13. ^ Alter, Ethan. Rocky III - Bill Conti. AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.
  14. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  15. ^ " – SOUNDTRACK / BILL CONTI – Rocky III". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  16. ^ " – SOUNDTRACK / BILL CONTI – Rocky III". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  17. ^ Rocky III - Bill Conti - Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.

External links[edit]