Six years after the debut of the first Rocky movie, Rocky III was released during Memorial Day weekend in 1982. The film was hugely successful earning nearly 270 million at the box office. It was the fourth highest grossing movie of 1982.
Even more impressive than the financial success was the several ways that the film contributed to the pop culture of the eighties and to the Gen X era.
Before Rocky III, Mr. T was a bodyguard and bouncer in Chicago. He appeared on NBC’s Games People Play as a contestant for the “America’s Toughest Bouncer” competition. He won that event and this is also where he was first noticed by Sylvester Stallone. This lead to him being cast as “Clubber Lang”, Stallone’s opponent in the film. Mr. T.’s famous catchphrase “I pity the fool” also came from Rocky III. The following year, he was part of the cast of The A Team on NBC and he went on to become a true 80s icon.
Before Hulk Hogan became the biggest fan favorite during the pro wrestling boom of the mid-eighties, he was a bad guy in the World Wrestling Federation. The WWF then was only a northeastern regional territory and not yet the national brand that it was soon to become. This is also where Stallone first saw him perform and this lead him to be cast as Thuderlips, the grappler Rocky fought in a charity wrestler vs boxer match. After the movie was completed, Hogan left the WWF and started wrestling for The American Wrestling Association, which covered the upper midwest and parts of the west coast. Thanks in part to the success of the film, this is where he became a good guy, and Hulkamania started to run wild! In December of 1983, he went back to the WWF, and a month later beats the Iron Shiek to become WWF champion. Also in 84, the WWF went nationwide and Pro Wrestling becomes a true 80s cultural phenomenon with Hogan as its biggest star.
Eye of the Tiger
Stallone had originally wanted to use Another One Bites the Dust by Queen as the theme song for the movie. When Queen said no, Stallone requested the band Survivor create a theme song. That song, Eye of the Tiger became one of the most iconic songs ever made for a movie, and one of the signature songs of the eighties and the Gen X era. It hit number 1 on the singles charts and stayed there for six weeks. When you combine the sales for the original vinyl and the later digital downloads, nine million copies have been sold. Eye of the Tiger was also the title of an action movie from 1986 starring Gary Busey. The song was used in that film as well.Rocky III