Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Stallone Says The Rocky Movies Aren't Sports Films. Here's Why

Sylvester Stallone is a Hollywood icon whose remarkable career and filmography kicked off in 1969 via "The Square Root." However, his ascent to the top of the entertainment industry wouldn't truly begin until 1976's "Rocky" came along, changing the aspiring actor's life forever. Its massive popularity, coupled with Stallone's passion for the lead character, Rocky Balboa, amounted to four direct sequels and the Michael B. Jordan-led spin-off series, "Creed." Not to mention, the franchise has come to be known as the blueprint of what a sports-centric movie should look, sound, and feel like.

As the tale of a kid from Philadelphia who rises to fame as a professional boxer, it should come as no surprise that the "Rocky" movies focus heavily on the hard-hitting sport. Each installment puts the spotlight on one (or more) fights, showcasing Rocky Balboa's dramatic bouts with the likes of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), Clubber Lang (Mr. T), and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in vivid detail. Audiences also get an in-depth look at the lead-up to each match, including how Balboa prepares both mentally and physically to step between the ropes — rounding out the experience of what it's like to be an athlete. 

Be that as it may, according to Sylvester Stallone himself, the "Rocky" story isn't confined to the sports genre. Here's why he thinks so and where he believes it actually fits.

The Rocky story is a drama

Now rapidly approaching 40 years since its theatrical premiere, "Rocky 4" is getting a facelift. Released under the title "Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago," this director's cut includes an additional 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage and will arrive in theaters for one night only on November 11, 2021. To help promote the cinematic event, Sylvester Stallone shared a brief clip on Instagram professing his love for the franchise and detailing the (re)making of the film. He also tossed in his two cents on where the "Rocky" saga sits in terms of its genre.

"A lot of the Rocky's I tried to make dramatic, like 'Rocky I,' 'Rocky II,' the last 'Rocky Balboa.' 'Creed,'" Stallone said, noting that "Rocky IV" took the series in a direction that was less grounded to the streets of Philly. He continues: "There's a lot of drama in there, yes, but it's not a sports film, it's a drama. It's a drama." When asked by director John Herzfeld if he considered any of them to be sports films, Sly remarked, "Not even close," revealing that as an actor, he always intended to lean more into dramatic work than the action titles he's now known for.

Sports are an undeniably important piece of the "Rocky" puzzle, but Sylvester Stallone isn't wrong about their prevalent dramatic edge. Poverty, loss, romance, mental health, and more all factor in as well, making each movie relatable in ways new and familiar. With that in mind, perhaps they really are dramas after all.