Sylvester Stallone can easily be associated with any number of characters. Throughout his lengthy film career, Stallone has embodied many iconic heroes that have become tethered to his name. Although the first Stallone character everyone thinks of first will be different, few will doubt how integral Rocky was to his career. Aside from performing as the now famous Italian Stallion, Stallone also wrote the film. Rocky, as a character, is essentially his creation. Unfortunately for Stallone, Rocky's producer Irwin Winkler controls both the character and the franchise.
A few weeks ago, Stallone made a public plea for his share of the rights from the Rocky films after voicing displeasure about the franchise's direction. The news about MGM developing a Creed spin-off, Drago, only exacerbated Stallone's feelings. In a scathing Instagram post, Stallone aimed his frustrations at Winkler and his children for "picking at the bones" of the Rocky franchise. Stallone also distances himself from Dolph Lundgren for failing to mention the spin-off plans.
A fortnight ago, Stallone took to Instagram to call for Winkler to give him "what's left of [his] rights back." He wrote then:
"After IRWIN controlling ROCKY for over 47 years, and now CREED, I really would like have at least a little WHAT's LEFT of my RIGHTS back, before passing it on to ONLY YOUR CHILDREN – I believe That would be a FAIR gesture from this 93 year old gentleman."
Now Stallone has posted afresh, commenting on the announcement of a new Drago spin-off movie, slamming both Winkler and his family, but notably reserving his affection for actor Dolph Lundgren.
The creation of Rocky, its success at the box office and its success at the 1976 Oscars has entered film folklore but the rights to the franchise have long been a point of contention for Stallone, who was paid approximately $75k (for the screenplay and his acting fees) plus 10 net points which earned him at least $2.5 million for the first film, according to his calculation shared with Variety.
He told the outlet he didn't push the issue of ownership rights at the time because "there was a certain code of business conduct, maybe not as much now, but back then, that you don't ruffle the feathers of the golden goose."