While Sylvester Stallone’s recent criticisms of Irwin Winkler have garnered attention, the tensions between them have been simmering for several years. The actor, who reprised his iconic role as Rocky in “Creed II” in 2019, openly expressed his frustrations during an interview with Claudia Eller, the former editor-in-chief of Variety. Stallone revealed his discontent with the ownership dynamics of the “Rocky” franchise, a series for which he wrote the screenplay in just three days before selling the rights to producers Winkler and Robert Chartoff.
The core of Stallone’s discontent lies in the original deal, which did not afford him an equity stake in the franchise. This absence of a long-term asset that could be passed down to his children after his passing fueled his anger. Despite the global success of the “Rocky” series, airing more frequently than any other Oscar-winning film aside from “The Godfather,” Stallone felt the original contract deprived him of a significant financial interest.
Expressing his frustration, Stallone highlighted the darker aspects of Hollywood dealings, citing a saying that characterizes Hollywood as a place where individuals figuratively stab you in the chest without even trying to conceal it. The actor acknowledged the financial security the system provided for his family but expressed discontent with certain aspects of the deal.
Representatives for both Stallone and Winkler have not responded to requests for comments on the matter.
Jason E. Squire, a professor of cinematic practice at the University of Southern California, weighed in on the situation, describing it as “very, very rare” for a major star to publicly call out a prominent producer. Squire explained that, typically, stars receive upfront payment along with back-end residuals tied to the film’s success. Despite Stallone lacking ownership rights, he continues to earn money from the project through these back-end payments.
The public airing of grievances between a star and producer adds a unique layer to the ongoing dynamics within Hollywood, shedding light on the intricacies of financial arrangements in the film industry.