The release of “Rocky Balboa” on Dec. 22 marks a comeback not just for Sylvester Stallone‘s sleepy-eyed, vowel-slurring boxing hero, but for the studio releasing the film: MGM.
“Rocky” will be the first major film for the Lion since it’s been rebuilt into a distribution and marketing company by chairman-CEO Harry Sloan and chief operating officer Rick Sands.
It’s also the first film that has MGM history. The original “Rocky” pics were made by United Artists, which was bought by MGM in 1981.
So far in its new incarnation, MGM has released indie pics with low to mid-level budgets, such as the Weinstein Co.’s “Lucky Number Slevin” and Dean Devlin‘s “Flyboys.”
With “Rocky,” which was co-produced by Revolution and Columbia Pictures, MGM will be competing with the majors.
To this end, MGM has been putting muscle behind its “Rocky” marketing. The first week in September was “Philly Loves Rocky Week” in Philadelphia, during which the Rocky statue was brought home. Stallone spoke to the crowd and raised his arms in victory. There’s also a Rocky blog.
In the movie, Rocky does his part for MGM — the character’s boxing shorts and robe are the Lion’s colors: black and gold.