On Thursday, Nov. 11, Sylvester Stallone's director cut of Rocky IV will be released for one night only in theaters and then made available on-demand the next day. So anticipated is this release among fans that ticket pre-sales have set a pandemic-era record for Fathom Events.
The excitement is in part because Rocky IV is one of the most popular sports movies ever made. Here are 10 facts you may not know.
1. It was the highest-grossing sports movie for 24 years
Having grossed $300 million worldwide, Rocky IV is the highest-grossing in the franchise and was the most successful sports movie for nearly a quarter of a century. In 2009, The Blind Side was released and surpassed it with $309 million.
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2. Sylvester Stallone wrote a novelization
Actually, Stallone wrote novelizations for two Rocky movies. His novel for Rocky II tells the story in first-person from Rocky’s perspective. The Rocky IV novelization is in third-person and provides more backstory on Apollo Creed and the Drago family.
3. Rocky IV has a different score
Bill Conti, who scored the first three movies, was unavailable because he was working on the first two Karate Kid movies, so Stallone went with Vince DiCola, who he had worked with on Staying Alive. While DiCola's score is part of the movie's charm, it definitely gives it a different feel. The next year, DiCola did the score for the animated Transformers: The Movie.
4. United Artists passed on a No. 1 single for the soundtrack
Peter Cetera wrote the "Glory of Love" to play during the end credits, but United Artists passed on it and went with "Heart's on Fire" by John Cafferty. Cetera's song ended up on The Karate Kid Part II soundtrack and become a No. 1 hit on the Billboard singles charts.
5. Rocky IV gave James Brown his second-biggest hit
From a Billboard charts perspective, "I Got You (I Feel Good)" was James Brown's biggest hit, going as high as No. 3 in 1965. His second biggest was "Living in America," which he performed while Apollo Creed danced to it in the movie. It went to No. 4, but it was not the most successful song on the album. That distinction goes to "Burning Heart" by Survivor, as it reached No. 2.
6. It won five Golden Raspberry Awards
While Rocky IV is beloved by fans, its only critical acclaim in the U.S. came from the Golden Raspberry Awards, which honors the worst of cinema for the year. The movie won five awards, including Worst Actor (Stallone, for it and Rambo: First Blood Part II), Worst Director (Stallone), Worst Supporting Actress (Brigitte Nielsen), Worst New Star (Nielsen, for it and Red Sonja), and Worst Musical Score. With both Rocky IV and Rambo: First Blood Part II, Stallone movies accounted for eight of the 10 awards that year.
7. The robot was written in to help Stallone's son
One of the few details that has been confirmed about the director's cut is that the infamous robot, Sico, will not be in this new version. It was created by International Robotics in the 1980s, and its founder Robert Doornick promoted it to work with autistic children. Stallone, whose son Seargeoh is autistic, wrote the robot into the script to work with him. Doornick has said that he believes Stallone removed Sico from the director's cut to avoid paying royalties to it.
8. Wyoming doubled for the Soviet Union
The last half of the movie focuses on Rocky training and fighting in the Soviet Union. Given the movie and the Cold War, filming there was not an option, so Jackson Hole, Wyoming, doubled for the snowy exteriors. The fight itself was filmed at Vancouver's Agrodome Arena.
9. Shooting the fight put Stallone in the ICU
During the shooting of the fight scene, Dolph Lundgren hit Stallone with an uppercut to the body that caused his heart to land against his ribcage. The punch bruised his heart, and he was taken to the ICU and hospitalized for nine days. The punch was less Lundgren roughhousing and more of him trying to meet Stallone's request for realistically throwing punches. "All I did was obey orders," he joked years later.
10. The fight had its own script
The movie had its own script, but so did the fight. In fact, it was about 30 pages long. As Lundgren told CinemaBlend, "When I showed up to start training with Sly for Rocky IV, he handed me a script. And it wasn't a script of the movie, it was a script of the fight. It was about 30 pages of just, 'Round 1, Left, Left, Left, Left, Right, Right, Left Hook,' and I had to memorize that on the page. And, he had the music already written for the fight, so we kind of choreographed the fight to the music." Looking at the finished product, the preparation paid off.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports' Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.