Rocky III

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Rocky III
Rocky iii poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Produced by Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Talia Shire
Burt Young
Carl Weathers
Burgess Meredith
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by Mark Warner
Don Zimmerman
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Company
(USA & Canada)
United International Pictures
Release dates
  • May 28, 1982 (1982-05-28)
Running time
100 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $17 million
Box office $270 million

Rocky III, the third installment in the Rocky film series, is a 1982 American motion picture written and directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone as the title character. 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 merely by United Artists. 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.

The fourth installment in the series, Rocky IV, was released on November 27, 1985.


In the three years since winning the world heavyweight title, Rocky has had a string of ten successful title defenses and has seen his fame, wealth and celebrity increase. Meanwhile, Rocky's trainer Mickey worriedly eyes a young and hungry fighter named James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. T). Lang rapidly climbs the ranks with six consecutive knockouts and is now the number one contender for Rocky's heavyweight championship. While unveiling a statue of himself at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky is publicly challenged by Lang. Lang accuses Rocky of selective matchmaking by intentionally accepting challenges from lesser opponents. Lang also questions Rocky's manhood to his wife Adrian (Talia Shire), enraging Rocky, who accepts his challenge.

Rocky's trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) initially wants no part of the match and refuses to train Rocky. After Rocky demands to know why, Mickey tells him that Lang was correct and all of his title defenses were fought against handpicked opponents in order to keep him successful, as well as to avoid more devastating injuries, such as the ones he suffered in the fight against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in their two matches. Mickey also tells Rocky that if he fights Lang, he would "kill (him) to death inside of three rounds" because Lang is "a wrecking machine"; younger, stronger, and hungrier than Rocky. Knowing this, Rocky questions his whole title reign and Mickey agrees to train Rocky for the fight, which Rocky declares will be his last.

Both fighters go in different directions in regards to their training for the fight. Lang works out alone in a spartan setting with very little equipment. Rocky, on the other hand, rents out a hotel ballroom and opens his training camp to the public with dozens of distractions that frustrate Mickey, who fears they will lead to disaster in the fight.

Lang and Rocky meet at Philadelphia's Spectrum. During a melee before the fight, Lang shoves Mickey, who suffers a heart attack. Rocky decides to call off the fight, but Mickey refuses and implores him to fight and win. Before the fight, Apollo Creed, present as a guest commentator, wishes luck to both fighters, but is snubbed and challenged by Lang. Dismissing Lang, he encourages Rocky and returns to the press box. As the fight begins, Rocky comes out aggressively and tries to knock out the challenger early. Lang, however, is unfazed by the early assault and quickly takes control of the fight. By the end of the first round Rocky is battered and bloody, and calls for Mickey. The condition of his trainer continues to distract him into the second round, where Lang knocks Rocky out to win the title.

Rocky heads back to his dressing room, where Mickey has taken a turn for the worse. Rocky tells Mickey that the fight ended by knockout in the second round but does not say he lost. He tries to convince Mickey there is more to do, but Mickey simply says, "I love ya, kid," and dies in Rocky's arms.

Rocky goes into a deep depression fueled by Mickey's death. One night, as Rocky stops at Mickey's now-shuttered gym, he is confronted by Apollo, who tells him that Rocky has lost his edge, which Apollo refers to as the "eye of the tiger," the focus and hunger to win, and that he needs to get it back. To do this, Apollo offers to train Rocky for a rematch with Lang. Rocky agrees and he, with Adrian and Paulie, follows Apollo to Los Angeles. Apollo's plan is to take Rocky back to the basics, from putting him and his family up in an old, unkempt hotel in Creed's old neighborhood, as well as returning to his old gym, where he hooks Rocky up with Duke, Apollo's former trainer.

Despite Apollo's best efforts at getting Rocky back into fighting shape, including pointing out the "eye of the tiger" in the other fighters in the gym, Rocky is still distraught and disillusioned. However, Adrian finally decides to talk to Rocky who, in his frustration, admits to being afraid and feeling responsible for Mickey's death. Through heated compassionate criticism Adrian is finally able to talk him out of his funk and convince him to get back on track, and with Apollo and Duke's expertise, Rocky develops into a completely different fighter by trading his power game for a quick hitting counter-attacking style, which confuses everyone, including Lang.

The rematch is held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. At the start of the fight, Rocky sprints from his corner, fighting with a level of skill and spirit that no one expected. As a result, Rocky dominates the first round. After the bell, Lang is in a fit of rage and has to be restrained by his trainers. In the second round, Rocky starts as he did in the first. However, Lang gains the upper hand; from here he dominates Rocky, knocking him down twice. Getting up from the second KD, Rocky adopts a strategy that bewilders Apollo (and Lang) by intentionally taking a beating from Lang while taunting him for being unable to knock him out. The round ends with a verbal altercation between Lang and Rocky.

In the third round, Lang (who is used to winning fights swiftly with knockouts in the early rounds) becomes increasingly angry and quickly exhausts his energy trying to finish Rocky off with repeated knockout blows, most of which miss the newly-agile Rocky. Rocky taunts the champion in order to psych him out, and the aggressive Lang is infuriated, his anger compromising his discipline. He attacks even harder, walking into Rocky's trap. The tide turns, and Rocky overpowers the winded and outboxed Lang, knocking him out and re-gaining the heavyweight championship of the world.

Afterwards, Rocky fulfills Apollo's vague "big favor": a private rematch with him at Mick's old gym. This time, after the two massive bouts between them previously, the fight is purely for pride and in the spirit of friendly competition rather than as fierce rivals. The film concludes with the fighters throwing their first punch simultaneously.


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.

Other media[edit]


A novelization by Robert E. Hoban was published by Ballantine Books in 1982.[1]


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[2]
  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)[3] 36
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[4] 5
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[5] 9
US Billboard 200[6] 15


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.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] The film grossed $16,015,408 in its opening weekend[10] and earned $125,049,125 during its North American theatrical run,[11] becoming the fourth highest grossing film of 1982;[12] its worldwide box-office earnings stand at around $270 million.[13]

Critical response[edit]

Rocky III received a mixed to positive reception from critics. The film holds a 61% rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[14] 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".[15]


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.[16] On the negative side, Mr. T was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star.[17]


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

External links[edit]