PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – “These people don’t die.”
That’s why Rocky didn’t die at the end of Rocky V. It’s what the head of the movie studio told director John Avildsen about two weeks into the shooting of the movie.
The original version of the film called for Rocky Balboa to die after a severe in-ring beating by Tommy Gunn, played by boxer Tommy Morrison.
“First of all, in five, Rocky was supposed to die. At the end of the movie he is on the way to hospital, his head is in Adrian’s lap and he dies because he’s taken this great beaten from Tommy Gunn,” Avildsen told 94WIP’s Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team on Monday. Alvildsen is in town for a special screening of the original Rocky film at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“And the last scene of the movie, Adrian comes out of the hospital and there’s the world press assembled because Rocky then is a big deal and she announces that he is dead, but as long as people believe in themselves Rocky spirit will live forever. And when I read that I said, wow what a great way to go out. What a beautiful ending! So we started shooting the movie and a couple of weeks into the shooting I get a call from the head of the studio and they said, ‘Oh by the way Rocky’s not going to die. Batman doesn’t die, Superman, James Bond, these people don’t die’.”
And it was that major change in the ending that ultimately hurt the movie most.
“So Rocky didn’t die, but the movie died because that was the point of the movie,” Alvidsen said. The film ended up grossing $119 million, the least of any film in the series.
Avildsen said that working on a movie about boxing wasn’t something he was particularly interested in.
“When I heard it was about boxing I said no thanks, I’m not interested in boxing,” he said. “I think it’s sort of a dumb thing, people slugging each other in the ring and so forth. But my friend urged me to read it and only the second or third page the guy is talking to his turtles Cuff and Link and I was charmed. I found it a great character story and a beautiful love story.”
It was a good decision, as Avildsen won the Academy Award for best director for Rocky, and it went on to gross $225 million worldwide.