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How Much Money Did Sylvester Stallone Actually Make For First Blood?

When it comes to action stars and movie icons, few Hollywood actors have been able to surpass or even match the legacy of Sylvester Stallone over the years. With nearly 100 acting credits under his belt, the 76-year-old New York native has been at the forefront of some of the industry's biggest and most famous blockbusters, including "Rocky" and the Rambo film franchises, with the latter being sparked by his 1982 hit "First Blood" — which, according to reports, led to one of his biggest paydays of his career at the time. 

There was just one problem: Stallone reportedly despised the action flick. "This is a career killer," Stallone recalled thinking to himself in a 2005 interview with Howard Stern. "This film, when we did it, it was so bad — at least I thought, and even my manager— we both went out, I think we both retched together in the alley." 

According to Stallone, he shouldn't have been paid a dime for the abysmal final product that he and the other filmmakers involved in the David Morrell adaptation had come up with. "We tried to buy it back and burn the negative," Stallone claimed. He also added, "Originally it was three hours long. I stayed an hour and a half in the woods chasing guys. And plus, I was pontificating throughout the thing ... I said, 'Here's a good idea: Cut out all my dialogue. Every line. And have other people talk about you — which by the way is not a bad way to live in general. Other people fill in the blanks."

Nonetheless, with the movie being cut down and edited to Stallone's liking before finally being released to widespread acclaim, how much did the legendary actor actually get paid for "First Blood," when all was said and done?

Stalloine was paid $3.5 million to play Rambo in First Blood

According to the New York Times, Sylvester Stallone got paid $3.5 million to make "First Blood," which is the equivalent of over $10 million in 2022 (per Bureau of Labor Statistics). However, other media outlets have actually placed the figure at $7 million — or roughly $20 million today (per CheatSheet). It's ultimately unclear if the larger sum was perhaps what Stallone profited in total after home video and box office sales. As reported by The New York Times, the actor has agreed to movie contracts in the past that involve him taking a percentage of any money the movie can possibly save by being produced under budget. 

So, the actual answer is a bit unclear. What is far more clear, then, is just how much Stallone started making after the success of "First Blood" and its massive payday.

By 1988 — if we take the $3.5 million figure as gospel — Stallone's salary had quadrupled for 1988's "Rambo III," with him reportedly earning $16 million for the film (via CheatSheet). He would hover around this figure for a number of other projects, including "Rocky V," "Judge Dredd," "Demolition Man," and "The Expendables." These days, the action icon is said to be worth around $400 million — with Celebrity Net Worth placing his overall movie gross at around $4 billion in total global revenue.  

Stallone's latest project sees him hitting the small screen for the very first time in Taylor Sheridan's "Tulsa King" series on Paramount+. It's not known how much Stallone is getting paid to lead the TV mob drama, but with his star power still at a legendary high, we can guess that it's somewhere in the eight-figure range.