MGM puts 'Rocky VI' in ring
Thu Dec 12, 1:21 AM ET
By Chris Gardner
LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) --- The long-rumored "Rocky VI" is one step closer to fighting its way to the big screen. MGM is nearing a final deal with Sylvester Stallone (news) to write, star in and produce another installment of the Academy Award-winning franchise.
But unlike most Hollywood franchises that see each installment grow in size, scope and budget, the new "Rocky" will return the franchise to its indie-style roots. The original 1976 film -- starring Stallone as the ultimate underdog who takes on champ Apollo Creed -- rang in at a budget just north of $1 million and went on to gross more than $220 million worldwide.
That's exactly the type of business model MGM has turned to following such projects as "Legally Blonde" and "Barbershop," both of which were budgeted less than $20 million and turned out to be big hits that more than tripled their budgets at the boxoffice. Sources close to MGM say that -- given the right script -- the studio and Stallone hope to continue that trend with a "Rocky VI" budgeted in the $10 million-$15 million range.
The story line for "Rocky VI" would find Stallone as a 50-year-old Rocky Balboa who is now at work running a youth center. He is lured out of retirement from the ring for one last fight. Stallone would produce along with the franchise's producers, Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. At MGM, the project is being shepherded by president Michael Nathanson.
Talk of a "Rocky VI" had been bandied about and reported in the press for several years, but deals never came to fruition. However, MGM, which leans on the financial returns from successful library titles and franchises like the James Bond films, never threw in the towel because of continued profits from "Rocky" titles in the home video and DVD arena as well as video games.
Following the first film in 1976, MGM rolled out "Rocky II" in 1979, "Rocky III" in 1982, "Rocky IV" in 1985 and "Rocky V" in 1990. All of them cleared the $100 million mark except for "Rocky V," which finished at about $40 million.
Stallone is repped by ICM, the Firm and attorney Jake Bloom. He most recently starred on the big screen in "Driven" and recently wrapped the ensemble "Shade."