FILM 1179: ROCKY
TRIVIA: After producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff became interested in the script, they offered writer Sylvester Stallone an unprecedented $350,000 for the rights, but he refused to sell unless they agreed to allow him to star in the film (this despite the fact that he had only $106 in the bank, no car and was trying to sell his dog because he couldn't afford to feed it). They agreed, but only on the condition that Stallone continue to work as a writer without a fee and that he work as an actor for scale. After Winkler and Chartoff purchased the film, they took it to United Artists, who envisioned a budget of $2 million, but that was on the basis of using an established star (they particularly wanted Robert Redford, Ryan O'Neal, Burt Reynolds or James Caan). United Artists didn't want Stallone to star, and when Winkler and Chartoff told them that the only way they could get him to sell the screenplay was to agree to cast him, United Artists cut the budget to $1 million, and had Chartoff and Winkler sign agreements that if the film went over budget, they would be personally liable. The final cost of the film was $1.1 million. The $0.1 million came after Chartoff and Winkler mortgaged their homes so as to complete the project.
Most of the scenes of Rocky jogging through Philadelphia were shot guerrilla-style, with no permits, no equipment and no extras. The shot were he runs past the moored boat for example; the crew were simply driving by the docks and director John G. Avildsen saw the boat and thought it would make a good visual, so he had Sylvester Stallone simply get out of the van and run along the quays whilst Avildsen himself filmed from the side door. A similar story concerns the famous shot of Rocky jogging through the food market. As he runs, the stall keepers and the people on the sidewalks can clearly be seen looking at him in bemusement. Whilst this works in the context of the film to suggest they're looking at Rocky, in reality, they had no idea why this man was running up and down the road being filmed from a van. During this scene, the famous shot where the stall-owner throws Rocky an orange was completely improvised by the stall owner-himself, who had no idea that a movie was being filmed and that he would be in it.
Rocky's dog Butkus was actually Sylvester Stallone's dog in real life.
According to Burt Young, during filming of the scene where Paulie walks home drunk, an actual drunk wandered onto the location and told Young he wasn't acting drunk convincingly, so Young asked the man to demonstrate it. Young then copied the man's actions for the scene.
When shooting the scenes in the meat-locker where he punches the slabs of beef, actor Sylvester Stallone punched the meat so hard for so long that he flattened out his knuckles. To this day, when he makes a fist, his knuckles are completely level.
In the film, the poster above the ring before Rocky fights Apollo shows Rocky wearing red shorts with a white stripe when he actually wears white shorts with a red stripe. This was an actual mistake made by the props department that they could not afford to rectify, so Sylvester Stallone came up with the idea for the scene where Rocky points out the mistake himself. The comment about Rocky's robe being too baggy came about the same way - the robe delivered to the set was far too baggy for Stallone, so rather than hope people wouldn't notice, the character himself simply points it out.
The first sports film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
The ice rink scene was originally written to feature 300 extras, but the production couldn't afford so many people. When Sylvester Stallone turned up to shoot the scene, to his horror, there was only one extra. So, Stallone hastily threw together the scene as it exists in the completed film. Ironically, this scene has become one of the most popular in the entire Rocky saga.