After years of silence, Sylvester Stallone has recently voiced his discontent regarding his lack of ownership in the “Rocky” franchise by throwing punches at producer Irwin Winkler, but why doesn’t the star have any ownership of the series he created?
After revealing his frustration regarding his lack of stake in the franchise to Variety in 2019, in which he said he has “zero ownership of ‘Rocky,'” Stallone expressed his anger toward Winkler through several Instagram posts that condemn him as “remarkably untalented and parasitical.”
In July, Stallone blamed Winkler for withholding ownership of the franchise and called for a “fair gesture” from the “Rocky” producer, saying, “I really would like to have at least a little [of] WHAT’S LEFT of my rights back, before passing it on to ONLY YOUR CHILDREN.”
After writing and starring in “Rocky,” Stallone revealed that he made significant profits but ended up with zero ownership over the 1976 original and films to follow. Despite profiting from the film’s on the back-end, the 76-year-old star currently holds no ownership of the eight films in the “Rocky” franchise, including the six “Rocky” films and the spinoff and sequel series “Creed,” which has two movies with a third film slated to be released in Nov. 2022.
Here’s an overview of Stallone’s contentious ownership battle:
Why doesn’t Stallone have any stake in the series?
In short, Stallone was never written into the “Rocky” ownership and was unsuccessful pushing for the rights later into his and the franchise’s career.
According to Variety, the “Rambo” star made an effort to gain ownership after “Rocky II” and “Rocky III” made even larger dividends than the first film, but was shot down by his attorney, Jake Bloom, who insisted that the studio would deny Stallone any rights.
So, since Stallone was “preoccupied with other things” and was “in a pretty weak position to say anything,” he refrained from pushing the matter at the time.
Did Stallone ever confront the studio to gain ownership?
Despite initially feeling disempowered to fight for a stake in the franchise, Stallone told Variety that he confronted MGM, who owns the rights to the films, in 1985, prior to the release of “Rocky IV,” despite the “certain code of business conduct” that discouraged “ruffl[ing] the feathers of the golden goose.”
“I said, ‘Does it bother you guys that I’ve written every word, I’ve choreographed it, I’ve been loyal to you, I’ve promoted it, directed it and I don’t have 1% that I could leave for my children?'” Stallone told Variety. “And the quote was, ‘You got paid.’ And that was the end of the conversation.”
Did Stallone still make money off the franchise? How much?
Yes, Stallone still made significant profits the from the films. According to Variety, Stallone made about $35,000, including $25,000 for the screenplay and $2,000 for acting. He also noted that he made $2.5 million from the first film’s sales on the backend.
Stallone also reported that he made $75,000 for “Rocky II” and $120,000 for “Rocky III,” alongside millions on the backend.
Why is Stallone targeting Winkler?
Stallone’s recent social-media posts accuse Winkler, who served as a producer for the “Rocky” and “Creed” films, of withholding ownership from Stallone.
While it is unclear if Winkler inhibited Stallone’s ownership in any way throughout the franchise’s history, Stallone evidently blames Winkler — and other producers — for financially taking advantage of artists and profiting from their work.
“Throughout history so many artists in every industry, recording, painting, writing you name it have been destroyed by these blood suckers who have destroyed so many families, lining their pockets with other people!” Stallone wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.