Creed II ended with a scene that I found very perplexing. After the title character won the climactic fight, he called over his trainer Rocky Balboa to celebrate. Rocky gave him a fist bump, but didn’t get in the ring. “It’s your time,” Balboa told Creed.

And then, as a sad version of the Rocky theme music played, Rocky took his seat at ringside and adjusted his trademark hat.

It felt like a good bye to Rocky — but how could you make more Creed movies without Rocky Balboa? Apparently, you can, as Creed III is coming to theaters next spring without Rocky or Sylvester Stallone. When I spoke to Creed II’s director, Steven Caple Jr., at the time of the film’s release I asked about whether the movie was intended as a farewell to Rocky, he suggested that the two characters may split into separate franchises: Creed series and a Rocky series.

In an new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stallone essentially confirms that idea, when he says that while he is not in Creed III, the studio that holds the rights to the concept “wanted another Rocky” from himBut, at least so far, he hasn’t agreed to do it because of his ongoing frustration with the fact that while he created the Rocky character, wrote nearly all his movies, and starred in them as well, he does not own the rights to his signature creation. (The franchise’s longtime producers own the material.)

Creed II 2
MGM
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Of a potential seventh Rocky movie, Stallone said “I was willing to do it. But I said, ‘After 45 years, can we change the playing field a little bit? Level it out? Can’t I get a piece of what I created all these years ago?’”

Stallone claims he didn’t even want a piece of the previous films, just this new one that was up for discussion. “I don’t want anyone to control it,” he said. “If I write it and the studio agrees to do it, it’s done.”

Clearly, the matter wasn’t resolved, because so far the new Rocky isn’t happening. And given that in this same interview Stallone says any kind of a settlement over the Rocky rights is “never gonna happen,” we really might have seen the last of the Italian Stallion onscreen in the final moments of Creed II. Creed III is still scheduled to open in theaters on March 3, 2023.

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