Last week I saw Sylvester Stallone on the Rocky steps.
As far as cinematic icons go, that one's pretty up there, like seeing Charlton Heston beating his fists in the sand at the beach, or catching Janet Leigh in the shower. And since both of those events are at this point cosmically unlikely, it was pretty cool to see Rocky Balboa himself standing atop the Art Museum steps in Philly, fist in the air, at a press conference for the upcoming film Creed.
Stallone was joined by director Ryan Coogler, co-stars Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson, and legendary producer Irwin Winkler. Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter* presented Stallone with a replica of the Liberty Bell, Jordan gave Mayor Nutter a Creed crew jacket, Winkler discussed his love of shooting in Philly and how much it's changed since 1975 and Thompson talked about cheesesteaks and said "jawn" a lot. It was your basic lovefest between a city and a production crew that's returned to it at least once a decade since 1975.
There wasn't a lot of actual news to emerge from this conference, except when Stallone was asked a question by reporter Trudy Haynes. Ms. Haynes is an 88-year-old reporter who is one of the first African-Americans to report TV news - a real-life Philly legend asking about Philly's biggest fictional legend. It was wild. Ms. Haynes voiced her appreciation that the franchise's underdog story now "has some color," and asked if this was the start of a new saga. Without hesitation, Stallone replied "absolutely," adding that "Rocky's story is pretty much documented, and this movie is called Creed...the idea is that you'll see more color in the movie, for sure...we will be back."
There you have it! Is it too soon to start fancasting opponents for Creed III? Another tidbit dropped that caused me to geek out a little is that Creed will open on November 25th, 2015, forty years to the day after the story of Rocky began...
Historically, this hand-off feels like a huge deal. Stallone has written every step of this character's journey, and the trust he's put into 29-year-old Ryan Coogler is really impressive. One can't help but feel there's something really momentous happening with this passing of the torch. (Robert Chartoff, Winkler's producing partner on every Rocky film, passed away earlier this year, and Creed is dedicated to his memory.)
*Members of the press were talking about how at the Creed screening the night before, Mayor Nutter sat in his seat texting the entire time. What a nightmare!