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MGM Gets in the Ring with Rocky for Anniversary

MGM Gets in the Ring with Rocky for Anniversary
Robert Marick, executive vice president, global consumer products and experiences, MGM tells License Global what’s ahead for the 45th anniversary year of the Rocky franchise.

Sylvester Stallone’ Rocky franchise has endured much like the films’ titular character himself. The tale of a Philadelphia boxer overcoming the odds through sheer determination has taken hold of the pop culture zeitgeist and endured for over four decades. Since the first film’s debut in 1976, the franchise has spawned seven sequels including two spinoff films, Creed and Creed II.

Coming into the franchise’s 45th anniversary in 2021, property owner MGM has begun developing a slate of licensing opportunities for the franchise.

Robert Marick, executive vice president, global consumer products and experiences, MGM, tells License Global that the upcoming push will focus on the underlining themes that have made the Rocky films so beloved.

“We are going to take up on Rocky’s key themes of ambition, passion and underdog, and create programs around some of those themes,” says Marick.

Those key themes are a big reason the Rocky franchise has continued success over the last four decades. Through each of the series' films, the basic themes of the original movie have served as a through-line that has led the franchise to resonate with new generations.

The Rocky series recently morphed into a spinoff series based on Rocky nemesis Apollo Creed. The Creed franchise follows the story of Adonis Creed, son of Apollo in the original film, as he trains under the guidance of Stallone’s character to set out on his boxing career.

“What I love about the Rocky franchise is it is a bit of old generation and new generation,” says Marick. “Many of us grew up with Rocky and the films. Then the transition with Creed and [actor] Michael B. Jordan has crossed into multi-generations. We can tap into that in merchandising as well as audience and develop that across the board.”

Moving forward, MGM aims to tap into that generational appeal to identify licensing deals in a broad selection of categories including publishing, gifts and novelty, apparel and accessories, and location-based entertainment–an area the series has already found success with via its annual Rocky Run in Philadelphia.

Now in its fourth year, the Rocky Run brings fans together for a marathon race that ends in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Marick and MGM see an opportunity to bring the run internationally to countries such as Mexico and China where Rocky has found a growing audience.

“In a recent trip to Mexico City where we were looking at our portfolio with potential retailers and licensees in the region,” says Marick. “Next to Pink Panther, Rocky most resonated. It is one of those films that is enduring.”

As new opportunities and regions open up for the Rocky franchise, it will be exciting to see how the licensing program continues to evolve into its 45th anniversary and beyond.

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