Source - Behind-the-scenes documentary 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic will enter the digital on-demand ring on June 9.
Virgil Films & Entertainment is releasing the film. It is directed by Derek Wayne Johnson, who profiled the director of Rocky in his 2017 film John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs. Avildsen, who died in 2017, captured his own 8mm footage during pre-production and shooting of his 1976 Best Picture Oscar winner. It forms the basis of the new documentary, which is narrated by screenwriter and star Sylvester Stallone.
I think I might've just peed a little.
This is the documentary we might never have realized we needed, but do. Desperately.
I don't know if it's possible to properly put into context what "Rocky" meant to the culture to a generation that's grown up on the franchise and known about it their whole lives. But it is truly one of the great American success stories. In this cheesy, dated trailer, when the voiceover guy says Sylvester Stallone "IS Rocky," he's not just saying he plays the role. He's saying he embodies who Rocky Balboa is.
The making of the first "Rocky" movie is one of the best Hollywood stories ever told and deserves a first-person account from the man who created it. The elevator pitch is that Stallone was your typical starving, struggling actor. After watching a tomato can named Chuck Wepner stay on his feet for 15 rounds against Muhammad Ali, he got the inspiration to write a screenplay and had it finished in three and a half days. He shopped it to studios who were enthusiastic and offered him big money for the rights, but he turned it down until someone was willing to let him play the lead. In the meantime, he had to sell his dog because couldn't afford to keep him. And the first thing he did when a studio hired him to star in the film, the first thing he did with the money was buy back the dog. And then put the dog, Butkus, in the movie. Stallone believed in himself, took huge chances gambling on his own abilities, and it paid off. And changed movies forever. In short, he's the Rocky Balboa of filmmakers.
They shot some of the Philadelphia scenes practically guerilla style, without getting permits or clearing the streets. According to legend, the part where Stallone is running through the marketplace and someone tosses him an orange was totally improvises. And actually grocer saw a camera crew coming by his cart and tossed the guy they were shooting a piece of fruit as he ran through. There are a million stories like that around the film and I cannot wait to hear them all from the source. If it's anything like that doc about John G. Avildsen, who directed "Rocky" and "The Karate Kid," I'm all in. This might be the thing we need more than any other. Because if anyone can bring the world back from the brink, it's Balboa.