Rocky III

Rocky III

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Produced by
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • May 28, 1982 (1982-05-28)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $270 million

Rocky III is a 1982 American sports-drama film written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone.[1] It is the third installment in the Rocky film series, and the second in the franchise to be directed by Stallone.

The movie features returning co-stars Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Talia Shire and Burt Young. Rocky III also marks the film debuts of Mr. T as James "Clubber" Lang, and of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan as the supporting character "Thunderlips".

Rocky III is the first installment in the series to be distributed by MGM/UA rather than United Artists alone. In 1980, United Artists, who owned the rights to the Rocky films, made Heaven's Gate, a film which cost $44 million and made only $3 million. In response, United Artists' owner, Transamerica, sold United Artists to MGM, forming MGM/UA in 1981.

The film's main theme "Eye of the Tiger", was written by the group Survivor and became a smash hit single, topping the U.S. Billboard charts and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.


In the three years since winning the world heavyweight title, Rocky Balboa has had a string of ten successful title defenses and has seen his fame, wealth, and celebrity increase. He even has time to participate in a friendly boxer vs. wrestler charity event against the world wrestling champion Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan). Meanwhile, Rocky's manager Mickey worriedly eyes a young and hungry contender rapidly rising through the ranks named James "Clubber" Lang. While unveiling a statue of himself at the steps by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky is publicly challenged by Lang, now the number-one contender. Lang accuses Rocky of intentionally accepting challenges from lesser opponents, and after he makes a sexual remark toward Rocky's wife Adrian, his challenge is accepted.

Mickey initially wants no part of it. Pressed by Rocky, Mickey confesses that Rocky's title reign was aided by Mickey deliberately handpicking Rocky's opponents. He also explains that Lang is young and hungry, and that Rocky would surely lose to him as he has not retained his edge as a fighter. Rocky, not wanting to retire knowing he never really defended his title against the best of his era, convinces Mickey to work with him for one more fight and pledges to 'live in the gym' and be more focused than ever. Rocky's Las Vegas-style training camp is filled with distractions and, despite his promise to Mickey, Rocky is clearly overwhelmed by fame and doesn't take the challenge seriously. In contrast Lang trains with ruthless determination and vigor.

Lang and Rocky meet at Philadelphia's Spectrum. A brawl breaks out backstage, and Mickey is violently shoved out of the way by Lang, causing him to suffer a heart attack. A now distraught Rocky wants to call the fight off, but Mickey angrily urges him on while he stays in the dressing room. By the time of the match, Rocky is both enraged and severely distracted by his mentor's condition. The match begins with Rocky pounding Lang with several huge blows, going for an early knockout, but the stronger and better prepared Lang is unfazed and quickly takes charge, dominating Rocky and knocking him out with a haymaker left hook in the second round, winning the heavyweight championship belt from Rocky. After the match, Rocky returns to the dressing room and witnesses Mickey dying. Kneeling at his side, Rocky speaks to Mickey, telling him that the match ended in the second round by a knockout, which Mickey misinterprets as a win for Rocky, shortly before succumbing to his heart attack.

Stopping by Mickey's closed gym, Rocky is confronted by his former nemesis, Apollo Creed, who witnessed the match as a guest analyst, and offers to help train him for a rematch with Lang in exchange for "a big favor." At first, Rocky is too demoralized to put forth his best efforts, which frustrates Apollo, but pulls himself together after Adrian helps him come to terms with Mickey's death. Apollo then trains Rocky at the gym where he once trained—Tough Gym in Los Angeles—and infuses Rocky's brawling style with more of the skill and speed that is Apollo's trademark.

The rematch takes place at Madison Square Garden. Apollo lends Rocky his American flag trunks that he wore during their first match. As the match is under way, Rocky sprints from his corner, fighting with a level of skill and spirit that no one, including Lang, expected. As a result, Rocky completely dominates the first round, demonstrating his new-found speed. After the bell rings, Lang is in a fit of rage and has to be restrained by his trainers.

In the second round, Lang gains the upper hand and Rocky adopts an entirely different strategy that bewilders Apollo by intentionally taking a beating from Lang, even getting knocked down twice but getting up both times before he is counted out while taunting Lang that he cannot knock him out.

By the third round, Lang, who is used to winning matches swiftly with knockouts in the early rounds, becomes increasingly furious over Rocky's taunts and quickly exhausts his energy trying to finish Rocky off with repeated knockout blows, which Rocky quickly begins to block or dodge entirely. With Lang winded and vulnerable, Rocky seizes the opportunity and throws his energy into increasingly damaging combinations on a winded and outboxed Lang, capping off with four huge straight left haymakers and a right hook to the head. As a result, Lang goes down for the count and Rocky becomes the heavyweight champion for the second time in his career.

Afterwards, Rocky fulfills Apollo's vague "big favor": a private rematch with him at Mickey's gym. However, this time they are fighting in the spirit of friendly competition rather than as fierce rivals. The film concludes with both of the fighters throwing their first punch simultaneously, and the winner of this final 'rematch' behind closed doors is left unknown.


In addition to the main cast several others had cameo appearances. Bill Baldwin and Stu Nahan returned as the fight commentators for the two Rocky-Lang fights. Veteran ring announcer Jimmy Lennon was the ring announcer for the first Lang fight, while boxing judge Marty Denkin was the referee. Lou Filippo returned for his third appearance as a referee during the second Lang fight. Dennis James and Jim Healy appeared as the commentators for the Rocky-Thunderlips match, while LeRoy Neiman was the guest ring announcer. Jim Hill was a TV announcer. A then unknown Morgan Freeman auditioned unsuccessfully for the role of Lang's trainer. Footage of Stallone's guest appearance on The Muppet Show was incorporated in the opening sequence, with Jim Henson dubbing Kermit the Frog's announcement that the episode's guest was Rocky Balboa, rather than Stallone.


In preparation for film, Stallone claims to have got his body fat percentage down to his all-time low of 2.8% and weighed 155 lbs. He stated that he ate only ten egg whites and a piece of toast a day, having a fruit every third day. His training consisted of a two-mile jog in the morning followed by a two-hour weight training, a nap during the afternoon followed by 18 rounds of sparring, another weight training and finishing the day with a swim.[2]

Bronze statue

A bronze statue of Rocky, called "ROCKY", was commissioned by Sylvester Stallone and created by A. Thomas Schomberg in 1981. Three statues were created, and one was placed on the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the filming of Rocky III. After filming was complete, a furious debate erupted in Philadelphia between the Art Museum and the City's Art Commission over the meaning of "art". Claiming the statue was not "art" but rather a "movie prop" the city considered various alternative locations and settled upon the front of the Spectrum in South Philadelphia. It was later returned to the Art Museum where it was used in the filming of Rocky V, as well as Mannequin and Philadelphia. Afterward, it was again moved to the front of the Spectrum. The statue was returned to the museum's steps on 8 September 2006.

The third of the three statues was listed on eBay in early 2005, with a starting bid of $5 million. It was being auctioned to raise funds for the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History. It failed to sell and was listed again for $3 million; after receiving only one bid, which turned out to be fraudulent, it has been re-listed several times for $1 million.[3] The statues weigh 800 pounds (360 kg) each and stand about 8.5 feet (2.6 m) tall.


Box office

Rocky III was an enormous box office success and surpassed the gross of its predecessor.[4] The film grossed $16,015,408 in its opening weekend[5] and earned $125,049,125 during its North American theatrical run,[6] becoming the fourth highest grossing film of 1982;[7] its worldwide box-office earnings stand at around $270 million.[8]

Critical response

Rocky III received a generally positive reception from critics. The film holds a 63% rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, with an average of 5.5/10. The film's Consensus reads "It's noticeably subject to the law of diminishing returns, but Rocky III still has enough brawny spectacle to stand in the ring with the franchise's better entries".[9] Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel attributed the film's success to the positive reaction from critics and audiences towards Rocky II and the production team's "quality control" of that film. Siskel stated "if you want a hugely successful series, then make sure that the second one is a winner".[10]


Rocky III was nominated for both the Award of the Japanese Academy for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Motion Picture at the Image Awards. The film's theme song Eye of the Tiger was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, the BAFTA Film Awards and the Golden Globes.[11] On the negative side, Mr. T was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star.[12]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Other media


A novelization by Robert E. Hoban was published by Ballantine Books in 1982.[14]


Rocky III
Soundtrack album by Bill Conti
Released 1982
Length 32:00
Label Liberty
Singles from Rocky III
  1. "Eye of the Tiger"
    Released: May 29, 1982
Professional ratings
Review scores
  1. "Eye of the Tiger" (by Survivor) – 3:53
  2. "Take You Back (Tough Gym)" – 1:48
  3. "Pushin'" – 3:10
  4. "Decision" – 3:20
  5. "Mickey" – 4:42
  6. "Take You Back" – 3:37
  7. "Reflections" – 2:05
  8. "Gonna Fly Now" – 2:52
  9. "Adrian" – 1:42
  10. "Conquest" – 4:40

The version of "Eye of the Tiger" that appears in the film is actually a demo—the "finished" version is what appears on the soundtrack. Also missing from the soundtrack is the instrumental version of the song played when Rocky is training in Apollo's old gym.

Chart positions

Chart (1982) Peak
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[16] 36
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[17] 5
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[18] 9
US Billboard 200[19] 15


  1. "Rocky III". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 28, 2016.
  2. Muscle & Fitness, Sept, 2004 by Michael Berg
  3. "International Institute for Sport and Olympic History - A Non-profit, Educational Corporation under 501c3, IISOH".
  4. "Box Office History for Rocky Movies". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
  5. "Box Office and Business Information for Rocky III". Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  6. "Box Office Information for Rocky III". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  7. "1982 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  8. Scott, Vernon (November 12, 1982). "Stallone found new life in new film". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
  9. "Rocky III Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  10. Siskel & Ebert - At the Movies: The Secret of Star Wars on YouTube. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  11. "Rocky III: Award Wins and Nominations". Retrieved June 11, 2010.
  12. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  13. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-05.
  14. "Rocky III".
  15. Alter, Ethan. Rocky III - Bill Conti. AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.
  16. "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Phononet GmbH. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  17. " – SOUNDTRACK / BILL CONTI – Rocky III". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  18. " – SOUNDTRACK / BILL CONTI – Rocky III". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  19. Rocky III - Bill Conti - Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.

External links

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