Sylvester Stallone accuses producers of “picking clean the bones” of the Rocky franchise and denying him part-ownership for years.
In a since-deleted Instagram post this morning, Sylvester Stallone accused the producers of the “Rocky” franchise of sucking the series dry. His outburst comes just as MGM Studios announced that after Creed III, to be released next Spring, another spin-off of an original antagonist, Drago, is in the works.
“Heartbreaker… Just found this out…ONCE AGAIN, IRWIN WINKLER, this PATHETIC 94-year-old PRODUCER and HIS MORONIC VULTURE CHILDREN, Charles And David, are once again picking clean THE BONES of another wonderful character I created without even telling me,” read one of two of Stallone’s deleted Instagram posts.
The sharp barb was directed at Irwin Winkler, a lead producer of the “Rocky” franchise who first bought the original screenplay from Stallone in the mid-1970s. His anger toward his former partner isn’t totally unexpected as earlier last month in an interview for Variety’s July magazine, Stallone expressed for the first time that he felt cheated by never being given part-ownership of the franchise.
Stallone had written the screenplay for the original movie over the course of three-and-a-half days, inspired by a boxing match where the less-experienced Chuck Wepner went all 15 rounds against champion Muhammed Ali. As a down-and-out actor himself at the time, Stallone had much inspiration to find in the story of an iron-willed underdog. His only condition for selling the screenplay to Winkler was that he play the leading role.
“It’s like my brother,” Stallone told Variety of his role as Rocky. “It’s the only voice that I can say what I want without being ridiculed, or being silly, or being precious or sentimental, because he is that way.”
As the success of the franchise continued, Stallone began to feel begrudging that he held no ownership in the story and character to which he felt such a kinship.
“When I finally confronted them [just before ‘Rocky IV; in 1985], I said, ‘Does it bother you guys that I’ve written every word, I’ve choreographed it, I’ve been loyal to you, I’ve promoted it, directed it and I don’t have 1% that I could leave for my children?’ And the quote was, ‘You got paid.’ And that was the end of the conversation,” he told Variety.
When Variety reached out to Winkler for comment, the producer contested a few points of the actor’s complaint, such as that Stallone only made $2.5 million off the initial film. Though Stallone’s objections were mostly centered around the franchise and its characters being original works close to his heart, no one can say that the experience wasn’t a major financial windfall for the actor.
With MGM announcing their plans for “Drago,” a spin-off based on the Russian boxer, Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren from “Rocky IV,” so close to the publishing of the contentious Variety article, Stallone was compelled to weigh in via Instagram.
“I APOLOGIZE to the FANS, I never wanted ROCKY characters to be exploited by these parasites,” Stallone said in a since-deleted post.
Lundgren responded with an Instagram post of his own: “There’s no approved script, no deals in place, no director and I was personally under the impression that my friend Sly Stallone was involved as a producer or even as an actor.”
Drago would be the first in the soon-to-be 10-film franchise without Stallone’s involvement or appearance.