In the first half of the 2000s, Sylvester Stallone was stuck in a hell of direct-to-video action films. By 2006, his last two major roles had been a jokey role in the deathly Spy Kids 3 and a guest-starring turn on the gleefully inessential Las Vegas. At the lowest ebb of his career, Stallone returned to the franchise that initially propelled him to ’80s mega-fame. The result was Rocky Balboa, a surprisingly not-bad sixquel that worked as an eerily accurate Stallone autobiography. The film was an unexpected hit, grossing $150 million worldwide, and the star smartly doubled down on his own nostalgia cult with a Rambo sequel and last summer’s The Expendables, which was essentially a reboot of the entire ’80s action genre. How much of a moment is Stallone having? According to a report in the New York Times, Rocky is on its way to becoming a freaking musical — with a hoped-for 2013 Broadway opening.
EW has confirmed that Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) is writing the book for Rocky, with the Tony-winning team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty writing the music. The plan is currently for a 2012 debut in Germany — the lead producer is Amsterdam-based European company Stage Entertainment — with hopes to bring Rocky: The Musical to Broadway in 2013.
Now, first of all, this news is totally bananas. The mere notion of a Rocky musical was something people used to chortle about back in the ’80s, pop culture was so young and innocent and America had not yet moved into a post-modern state meta-existence. So let’s get the requisite “Good god, why is everything a remake of everything else” grumbling out of the way. [Grumbles loudly]. Now, let’s recall: in this modern moment of mythology-heavy franchises that spin backwards and sideways into prequels and spin-offs, there is something admirably simple about the Rocky series: A dude has to fight another dude, and he trains while listening to awesome music. That is not by a long shot the stupidest idea for a musical ever.
PopWatchers, what would you like to see in Rocky: The Musical? Are you excited for the dance-fighting? Am I the only one who secretly hopes Julie Taymor rolls in her crazy train of wonder and turns this into a meditation on the meaning of hope? And how can we convince the producers to just skip ahead and adapt Rocky IV instead?
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