Sylvester Stallone is signing on to reprise his role as boxer Rocky Balboa in the sixth installment of the long-running film series, which he wrote and will direct.
The film, titled “Rocky Balboa,” will be co-produced and co-financed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures and Revolution Studios and will be distributed by Columbia Pictures.
Stallone has been trying to make a sixth movie for years and has been reworking a script. The latest version, which sources said is similar to the tone and grit of the first two movies, persuaded the studios to negotiate a deal.
“In many ways, the screenplay really took me back to the original ‘Rocky,”’ Revolution Studios founder Joe Roth said in a statement. “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.”
In the new installment, Rocky, lonely and retired in Philadelphia, comes out of retirement, intending to fight a few low-profile local fights. He’s approached to fight a match with reigning heavyweight champ Mason “The Line” Dixon, and soon his comeback ignites a media firestorm.
“’Rocky Balboa’ is about everybody who feels they want to participate in the race of life, rather than be a bystander,” Stallone said in a statement. “You’re never too old to climb a mountain, if that’s your desire.”
Shooting is scheduled to begin in December in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Stallone received Academy Award nominations for starring in and writing “Rocky,” and the 1976 MGM film won an Oscar for best picture, best director (John G. Avildsen) and best editing (Richard Halsey, Scott Conrad). The movie grossed $117.3 million at the domestic boxoffice, making Stallone a film star and creating one of cinema’s most famous characters.
It also launched one of the most successful film series of all time. 1979’s “Rocky II” grossed $85 million, and 1982’s “Rocky III,” which featured Mr. T, grossed $120.2 million. “Rocky IV,” with Dolph Lundgren, made $125.4 million after its 1985 release. By the decade’s close, however, audiences seemed to have tired of the character. “Rocky V,” released in 1990, made only $40 million.
“Rocky Balboa” is the first film to be green-lit by MGM since it was acquired by Sony Corp.