Stallone's Rocky comeback knocks out his critics with $6m opening

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The Independent Culture

Yo Adrian - I'm back! The Italian Stallion - last seen on the big screen in 1990 in the risible Rocky V - is punching again and has delivered a knockout to those critics who chose to mock. Sylvester Stallone's sixth outing as the Philadelphia fighter Rocky Balboa has topped the US box office, taking $6.2m (£3m) in its first week.

Entitled Rocky Balboa, the movie tells the story of how the ageing former fighter is persuaded to enter the ring for one last bout. Stallone, 59, has said this will be the last outing for his character, but everyone heard the same story 16 years ago after Rocky V hit the screens. "You haven't had a character like this for a long time that is easily relatable and has 25 or 30 years of goodwill built up toward it, so it's really just an experiment," Stallone said in a interview with Reuters.

"I felt, guys my age, people in general, are questioning their place in the future. People are living longer. They are healthier. They have more ambition, more energy, yet society is telling them to move aside."

It has been 30 years since Stallone's iconic character was first unveiled in Rocky, a modestly financed film written by the actor, which went on to win three Oscars,. The film told the story of a struggling fighter who gets ashot against the heavyweight world champion, Apollo Creed.

But the new film finds Rocky back in his old neighbourhood, running a restaurant and thinking about happier times after his wife died of cancer five years earlier.

When news broke that Stallone was planning to bring Rocky back, there was no shortage of unkind muttering, suggesting Stallone would do anything for a return to the limelight.

But in another interview, Stallone defended his decision. "Yes, maybe I've had to sell out a few times in my life because we all have to sell out on the road of life. But at the very end, I made up for that and did it my way and I feel good about being myself," he said.