The Rocky series continues to be seen as the ultimate underdog tale, featuring the struggles of small-time boxer Rocky Balboa to become a champion on the world stage. The story of the making of the first Rocky itself has become the stuff of legend, although certain parts of that legend are less truthful than others. The producer of Rocky, Irwin Winkler, busted one such myth during an interview with Yahoo! when he was asked if it was true the script for the movie, written by Sylvester Stallone, was turned down by multiple studios before coming to Winkler.

"That's not correct! He didn't pitch to any other studios. He came in to have a casting meeting with us, and said 'by the way, I'm also a writer'. I was curious, as he didn't seem like a writer from the conversation we'd had, so I said, 'send me a script', which he did. We didn't like the script, but we liked his writing, so we called him and he said, 'let me come in and pitch Rocky,' which we loved. We wanted to do a fight movie - and he said, 'You don't have to pay me. I'll do it for free, as long as I can play the title role.'"
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In the decades since the first Rocky movie came out, the franchise has shown the kind of rare staying power that Hollywood dreams of. Even today, the series continues to go strong with the spinoff Creed movies. According to Irwin Winkler, the reason Rocky has found such success is because the franchise has continued to deal with the real-life issues of the day.

"The reason [the Rocky movies] lasted so long - from then till now - is that we have managed to have the Rocky character move with the times and the social atmosphere that's pervaded throughout the US and globally. Rocky came out post-Vietnam War, Watergate etc and in the great era of American dissatisfaction with oneself and what was going in the US. And all of a sudden this movie says: 'if you believe in yourself and give it your all, you might even be a champ someday'. Even in the late 80s - when Rocky IV came out, with the backdrop of US vs Russia, it was a plea for everyone to get along - it was also about that time the Berlin Wall came down, when the US and Russia had a comfortable relationship - for a short period of time. Unlike now! So we have kept the films relevant to the time in which they came out."

Recently, Sylvester Stallone hinted that he was working on a director's cut of Rocky IV, as well as writing a new script where Rocky trains a promising new wrestler who is an immigrant from a different part of the world. It will be interesting to see if the movie does end up getting made, putting the character of Rocky Balboa once again in the middle of real-world politics that get resolved in the boxing ring. This news first appeared at Yahoo UK.

Neeraj Chand