Rocky Balboa Is (Sort Of) Coming Back To Movie Theatres
The Rocky movies are a guilty pleasure for a lot of people.
There’s probably nothing to be ashamed of about liking the first Rocky film, which was an Oscar-worthy triumph of an underdog story, but from there, the franchise quickly descended into pomp and farce. Rocky Balboa started off as a well-rounded, believable working-class boxer. By the end of the series, he was effectively an all American He-Man who single-handedly ended the Cold War. There was nothing smart about the later Rocky films, but there’s still something enjoyable about them.
Like every boxer (and actor, for that matter), Rocky Balboa is no more immune to the effects of time than the man who plays him. Sylvester Stallone can no longer get in the ring and play an active boxer. He got around this by turning the character into a trainer for the first two Creed movies, but we now know he won’t be appearing in Creed 3. It’s always possible that Stallone will find another way to bring the much-loved character back, but at this point, it’s just as possible that he’s played Rocky for the last time. Despite that, we haven’t seen the end of the character on the big screen. In fact, he might be back sooner than you think – just not the way you’d probably expect him to be.
During 2020, A-list celebrities were subject to the same quarantine and lockdown restrictions as the rest of us. For many of them, that meant finding new hobbies and ways of passing the time. Stallone decided that it was a great opportunity to review his past films and see if he could breathe new life into them with a fresh edit. Unsurprisingly, the first place he looked was to the Rocky series. Just as unsurprisingly, the movie he eventually decided to focus on was the ultra-bombastic patriotism-infused Rocky IV, which sees Balboa go toe to toe with the indomitable Russian Ivan Drago, as memorably played by Dolph Lundgren. Rocky IV was criticised for being around fifty per cent made up of flashbacks and montages when it was first released in 1985, but it didn’t have to be that way. Plenty of material ended up on the cutting room floor. Now, Stallone is putting a lot of that cut material back into the narrative with “The Ultimate Director’s Cut” of the film. A surprisingly fantastic new poster has just been released to promote it.
Rocky IV was as absurd and over the top as the series got, following on from a run-of-the-mill Rocky III and then followed by a too-gritty Rocky V. The sixth film, Rocky Balboa, was probably the best sequel of them all but came so long after the first five that most people don’t consider it part of the sequel. Despite the nonsensical plot involving Ivan Drago as a Soviet super-soldier and Rocky winning the hearts of communist fans in Moscow by being brave in a boxing match, it was the most financially successful of all the Rocky films. Made with a relatively modest budget of $28m, the film returned $300m at the box office. It also served as the inspiration for the second Creed film, in which the fallen Apollo Creed’s son battles Drago’s son in a grudge match. That film was also a financial success, which proves that lightning sometimes strikes twice after all.
In most cases, “Director’s Cut” versions of films are released exclusively as DVD or streaming products. That won’t be the case with the new version of Rocky IV, which is scheduled to be released in movie theatres on November 11th. That’s a reminder of what a money-spinning property Rocky is. In fact, “spinning” could even be the operative word in that sentence because there’s an official Rocky online slots game making money at slots websites like Rose Slots CA. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking idea to release an online slots game with a movie license, but most such releases get lost in the mix. Rocky doesn’t. This might be something else that Stallone has a personal interest in because there are also online slots available based on the Rambo series. Either Stallone is a big fan of online slots, or he’s spotted a way to make money from his intellectual properties in a way that few stars of his generation have taken advantage of. You can say what you want about him as a writer or a performer, but he’s a shrewd operator.
Aside from the release date and the knowledge that there will be previously unreleased material in the film, there’s very little we can tell you about the new edit at this point. Stallone is in full-on promotion mode on social media, but all he’ll say about his film’s content is that it’s “amazing.” We can probably safely assume that it will be longer than the original film, which clocked in at a length of exactly 90 minutes. Only sixty minutes of that (at most) were “new,” with the rest made up of flashbacks and outtakes from the previous three Rocky films, so when watching the existing version of the movie, it feels far shorter. We have no idea what kind of additional content was shot for the film, but perhaps we’ll find out more about the relationship between Ivan Drago and Brigitte Nielsen’s Ludmilla Drago. Her character plays a pivotal role in Creed II, but that role isn’t hinted at in Rocky IV. There might be something that ended up on the cutting room floor that would have provided more context.
If you’ve never seen Rocky IV in the movie theatre before, this is an excellent opportunity to do so no matter what is or isn’t included by way of new material. Rocky IV – like the rest of the series, if we’re fair – was made to be seen on the big screen and loses something in translation when watched on a smaller one. If anyone has an intuitive feel for what Rocky fans want to see in a Rocky movie, it’s the man who invented the character. We’re sure that the finished Stallone gives to us will be worth seeing – and we’re not ashamed to say we’re excited about being swept up in the nonsense of the plot yet again. When the movie opens, we’ll see you in the queue.