Sylvester Stallone will reprise his role as legendary boxing champion Rocky Balboa in the new film Rocky Baaboa it was announced today by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures, who will co-produce and co-finance the film. Columbia Pictures will also handle distribution for the film.

Stallone, who received Academy Award nominations for starring in and writing "Rocky," will serve as writer and director of the film. A Chartoff/Winkler production, the film is scheduled to begin shooting early in 2006.

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Rocky Baaboa is the next story in the saga of Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa, one of Hollywood's most beloved characters. In the film, Rocky has long since retired but is drawn back to the boxing ring one last time. On the way he is challenged by a powerful new champion, by personal tragedy and ultimately by himself.

According to Stallone, "'Rocky Baaboa is about everybody who feels they want to participate in the race of life, rather than be a bystander. You're never too old to climb a mountain, if that's your desire."

Dan Taylor, President of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, stated, "We're convinced the Rocky franchise is as strong as ever, with a whole new generation of filmgoers ready to be introduced and an established fan base eager to be reacquainted with this iconic character. We felt it was the perfect first film to be green lit under the 'new' MGM."

"In many ways, the screenplay really took me back to the original 'Rocky,'" said Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth. "As a past champion, Rocky Balboa is once again a regular guy who has to find himself and deal with real life. This film brings Rocky's story full-circle."

The film will be produced by Charles Winkler, William Chartoff and David Winkler. Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, the producers of the previous "Rocky" films, will serve as executive producers.