The wait is almost over for fans of the Rocky franchise. Sylvester Stallone's new cut of Rocky IV will be released in theaters this week. It will be a one-day only theatrical release, so those fans may also be a little nervous about whether they will nab their tickets in time.
To keep it separate from the original, the new cut of the film will be called Rocky IV: Rocky vs Drago. Stallone has added 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage along with clipping other scenes and making small changes that have a big impact on the nuance of the original film.
Rocky IV picks up in the epic series after the death of Rocky’s trainer, played by Burgess Meredith. Without the guidance of Mickey, the title character has retirement on his mind while former rival and current mentor Apollo Creed is looking for an opportunity for a comeback.
Events carry Rocky to Russia, where he will face the most ferocious opponent of his storied career — Ivan Drago.
This "ultimate director's cut" of Rocky IV will be in theaters for only one day on Thursday November 11. The theatrical version will also include a Q&A with Sylvester Stallone in some locations. Fathom Events is organizing the event and exact locations can be found on their website, along with links to buy tickets at your local theater.
After Thursday, Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago will be released via streaming for fans to watch at home.
The re-cut of the 1980's classic boxing film has become Stallone's chance to correct some of the mistakes he felt he made as a young filmmaker, though the biggest mistake is one he will have to live with.
Stallone’s Biggest Rocky Regret
In a video posted to Stallone’s Instagram, he spoke about his biggest regret for the original Rocky IV. If he could go back in time and do it all over again, he would not have killed off the Apollo Creed character, made so memorable by the performance of Carl Weathers.
Instead, he would have left Apollo alive, but without the physical prowess that made him the greatest boxer of a generation. In a wheelchair, Stallone suggested, Creed could have become a big brother to Rocky. He could have taken over the mentor role left vacant by Mickey while dealing with yet unexplored areas of the Creed character’s life and personality.
Stallone considers the death of Apollo Creed a mistake he made due to his youth and uncertainty as a filmmaker. He wanted something big to propel the drama of the film.
Everything in the nine-film Rocky saga pivots on the death of Apollo, leaving fans wondering how the following story might have gone.
In the 1990 film Rocky V, the family returns to their old familiar neighborhood after Paulie, played brilliantly by Burt Young, makes poor decisions with the family’s finances. There, Rocky meets and trains Tommy Gunn, played by real-life world champ Tommy Morrison.
Such a story seems unlikely if the multi-millionaire best friend is still alive.
How then could Rocky Balboa take place, which picks up years later with Rocky, now a widower, running a restaurant near his old neighborhood?
Then there is the Creed series, in which Apollo’s son seeks out Rocky to provide answers about his father. Rocky eventually trains Creed-the-younger to make his own run for the title.
The absent father that makes the Creed series possible has some of the air let out if Apollo is sitting at the kitchen table eating a sandwich.
Then there is the question of whether Rocky IV would have hit the same emotional note for audiences, providing enough success to propel the series beyond the fourth movie.