Sylvester Stallone tells ‘Rocky’ producers he wants ‘what’s left of my rights back’

An older man wears a black turtleneck and gray blazer
Actor Sylvester Stallone attends the HBO premiere of “Very Ralph” at the Paley Center for Media on Nov. 11, 2019.
(Mark Von Holden / Invision / Associated Press)

Sylvester Stallone’s review of “Rocky Balboa” and “Creed” producer David Winkler’s new memoir is a total knockout. And not in a good way.

The “Rocky” star and screenwriter, who does not have a producing credit on the films, is lobbying for his “rights” to the Oscar-winning franchise. He contends that he’s owed a greater ownership stake in it after reading “The Arrangement: A Love Story.”

“You know I love reading and I’ve read thousands of books but I have to say THIS one is by far the worst!” Stallone wrote Sunday on Instagram. “If you ever run out of toilet paper PLEASE [buy] this one you won’t be disappointed. It’s very absorbent…”

“The Arrangement,” David Winkler’s June memoir about becoming “a sugar daddy” (yes, really), is summarized by Stallone as “unbearable worthless dreck” written by “the painfully untalented David Winkler who is the son of the remarkably untalented and parasitical Producer of Rocky and Creed.”

David’s father, Irwin Winkler, co-produced the “Rocky” films and also served as a producer on the spinoff “Creed” movies, the third of which is due in November. His son and Stallone share producing credits on the “Creed” films too. But Stallone has no producing credits on the six “Rocky” films that he wrote and starred in, four of which were sequels that he directed.

Three men in tuxedos stand onstage
“Rocky” co-producers Irwin Winkler, left, and Robert Chartoff, right, with Sylvester Stallone after receiving Golden Globes at the Academy Awards in 1977.
(Associated Press)

The 76-year-old action icon further unloaded on the famed Hollywood family and the making of the hit film that launched Stallone’s career in 1976 and in the decades since. He said he “barely ever saw” Irwin Winkler around in all those years, but “really respected and LOVED” Robert Chartoff, who produced the first “Creed” film before he died in 2015. (Chartoff and producing partner Irwin Winkler won the best-picture Oscar for the film, not Stallone.)

Chartoff, Stallone said, had “real talent and SOUL, but unfortunately passed away much too soon……. If it wasn’t for Winkler there would’ve been at least another three Rocky’s, that would’ve been wonderful … frankly that crew are the worst unhunman beings I’ve ever met in the movie industry. I will forever love the loyal fans and keep punching.!!! REMEMBER IT FEELS GOOD TO CLEAR YOUR HEART …”

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Stallone has been synonymous with famed boxer Rocky Balboa, whom he created in his Oscar-nominated screenplay. Later, Stallone was nominated for a supporting actor Academy Award when he reprised the role of the famed Philly fighter in the 2015 spinoff starring Michael B. Jordan as the titular “Creed” boxer.

In 2019, the “Rambo” and “The Expendables” star told Variety that he had “zero ownership of Rocky” and was “furious” that his claim was dismissed because he was allowed to star in the legendary underdog movie instead. Irwin Winkler told the Hollywood Reporter in 1983 that their commitment to Stallone was to star in the film and that the producers had to put their houses up as collateral to get it made.

Stallone kept punching after his initial post on Sunday. The star shared a drawing of what appeared to be Irwin Winkler super-imposed on a snake, characterizing the work as “a VERY flattering portrait” of the “great” producer.


In Sylvester Stallone’s mind, he had hung up the boxing gloves.

Oct. 30, 2015

“[A]ter IRWIN controlling ROCKY for over 47 years , and now CREED, I really would like have at least a little WHAT’s LEFT of my RIGHTS back, before passing it on to ONLY YOUR CHILDREN - I believe That would be a FAIR gesture from this 93 year old gentleman ?” he wrote. “This is a painful subject That eats at my soul, because I wanted to leave something of Rocky for my children, but it’s always great hearing from the loyal fans.”

Then on Monday, he also posted a similar drawing of the Winkler family, welcoming his followers to “THE REAL ROCKY HORROR SHOW!!

“We are Very happy Rocky Producer IRWIN AND MARGO , CHARLES and DAVID and THE ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY are staying heathy and very bloody well fed off the ITALIAN STALLION , while CONTROLLING All of the ROCKY FILMS FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS ! Bon appétit! KeepPunching!” he wrote.

David and Irwin Winkler declined to comment Monday when reached by The Times via e-mail.