Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is wrapping up a deal to acquire “40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic,” Variety has learned. The studio plans to run the documentary, which includes behind-the-scenes footage of the creation of the first film in the franchise, on Epix, the cable channel it co-owns. The initial plan was to begin airing the movie this winter. Epix already runs the Rocky movies and the franchise’s spinoff series, Creed.
“40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic” is narrated by star and creator Sylvester Stallone, who shares insights from his battle to get the story of a down-on-his-luck boxer to the big screen. When it premiered in 1976, it became a box office sensation, going on to win the Oscar for best picture. It includes footage shot by John G. Avildsen, the director of the first film. Derek Wayne Johnson, who previously profiled the filmmaker in 2017’s “John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs,” directed the documentary.
“40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic” is going to be released digitally by Virgil Films. The production company is Cinema 83 Documentary Films, which backed the film in association with Visionary Media Group. Johnson produced the film with Chris May and Emmett James. Executive producers were David Polemeni and Ronald Zamber.
Marc Simon of Fox Rothschild LLP represented the filmmakers in negotiations. A spokeswoman for MGM declined to comment.