1976 – It was on this day in 1976 that filming began for the movie Rocky on the streets of Philadelphia. The movie, famous for being written in just 3 ½ days and shot in just 28, is itself as inspiring as the story it tells.
So the story goes that in 1975 Stallone was out of work, he had $106 in the bank, his wife was expecting their first kid, and his car had broke down so he had to take the bus to auditions. He even had to sell his beloved family dog.
Partly inspired by the fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner, and wanting to write a story where the protagonist didn’t win, but accomplished something great; he sat down with a Bic pen and legal pad and wrote the script to Rocky.
Hollywood fell in love with the story immediately, offering him as much as $360,000 (That’s $1.6million in today’s money). But he refused. Stallone at the time, was still pretty unknown, and they wanted to cast someone different in the starring role. But Stallone was convinced that this was his shot, and held out until an offer came in that allowed for him to play Rocky. Eventually one did, but for a small fraction of his previous offers, and on January 9th 1976 he began filming a movie that would not only launch his career, but become one of the most well-known boxing movie of all time.
According to an interview Stallone did in November of 76 – he had already planned on writing two sequels. But the story he imagined was that Rocky Balboa would win a grass roots campaign to become the Mayor of Philadelphia, and then eventually be taken out because he couldn’t be corrupted.
This is one of my favorite rags-to-riches Hollywood stories, second only to Michael J. Fox being cast in Family Ties. The amount of faith you have to have in yourself, to turn down $1.6million dollars, when times are that tough- I’m not sure that I could do it.