If you’re like most movie fans, you probably rolled your eyes when you heard about how a seventh Rocky film was being made. 2006’s Rocky Balboa wasn’t necessarily a bad movie, but that they trotted a 60-year-old Sylvester Stallone back into a boxing ring was like a giant advertisement of the fact that Hollywood is a little too obsessed with sequels. As capable as Stallone remains, the whole thing just seemed weird.
But when details of the seventh film started to trickle out and we really found out what it was, it appeared immediately more reasonable, if perhaps a bit forced. This movie will feature Rocky in a supporting capacity as he becomes the trainer (and probably father figure) to Adonis Johnson, the son of Rocky’s old nemesis-turned-friend Apollo Creed. The trailers have shown Johnson (played by Michael B. Jordan) reenacting a few classic Rocky training scenes (like catching chickens and running the steps in Philadelphia), and frankly it looks like a charming idea.
Still, cynicism about sequels and reboots remains at an all-time high, and there are sure to be droves of fans who view this movie as nothing more than a desperate attempt to force a franchise into a new era as its defining star ages out. Fair enough—I can’t really argue against that viewpoint. But the publicity for Creed is getting louder by the day, and it’s getting hard not to wonder if this might be something of a surprise hit.
Perhaps the most eye-opening promotion of the film came in the form of a New York Times editorial that went as far as to claim that Michael B. Jordan is delivering millennials with “their Rocky.” Given just how timeless and influential the original Rocky films were to generations who grew up with them, that’s a weighty claim, but also an exciting one. The piece goes on to discuss Jordan’s devotion to the role, as the young actor continues to polish his reputation as one who will do whatever it takes to deliver in his performances. The actor’s body transformation for Creed is certainly evidence to that fact, though we’ve seen other actors get ripped for boxing roles only to deliver relatively hollow performances. Bet on Jordan doing a little more.
Outside of editorials specifically about Creed, there’s been a slow but sure return of Rocky to the forefront of pop culture in the lead-up to the new movie. Not long ago, Indiewire teased a new documentary set to air on Epix later this month titled “From Rocky To Creed: The Legacy Continues.” That’s a little more than your average trailer or promotional piece. That Epix would run an entire documentary about the concept of Rocky’s transition to the Creed movie speaks to the importance of this series.
For a whole different audience, Rocky has also been put front and center at Gala Casino’s games section, where the Rocky digital scratch card is now front-page material. This is a casino game that uses themes and images from the original Rocky, and while it’s not specifically a promo for the new film, it’s clearly aimed at capturing (and perhaps adding to) the excitement that’s growing over the Creed release. In particular, the game will put Rocky back in the minds of a widespread European audience that makes up much of Gala’s user base.
And then of course, in addition to all that, there’s the news that’s already spreading about a potential Creed franchise to sprout from this movie. JoBlo claims there are actually multiple sequels planned already. While that’s been true of some franchises that ultimately flopped, it also comes across as the studio’s own ringing endorsement of the material. You don’t usually start mapping out sequels unless you’re sure the first project is going to go well.
Creed is released in the U.S. on Nov. 25 eventually opening in the UK on Jan 15th 2016, and those behind it have done an impressive job of keeping it in our minds alongside monster releases like the new James Bond, Star Wars, and Hunger Games films.