Known for his iconic roles in the “Rocky” and “Rambo” franchises, Sylvester Stallone is one of the most recognized and richest action stars of all time. With more than 80 acting credits under his belt, his body of work stretches across five decades.
On July 6 Stallone turns 72, but he isn’t considering retirement yet. The action star is set to appear in eight major motion pictures between now and 2019. Whether he’s acting or directing, the checks keep rolling in, bringing Stallone’s net worth to $400 million. Take a look back at some of the iconic roles of Stallone’s career and how he became one of the richest actors in the world.
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Although Stallone is known for his action movies, his first role in Hollywood came via the adult film industry when he starred in the softcore movie “The Party at Kitty and Stud’s” back in 1970. It wasn’t until 1973 that the New York native got his first legitimate Hollywood acting role as Jerry Savage in “No Place to Hide.” Shortly thereafter, Stallone’s career got some traction. He landed a role in the story of the iconic American gangster Al Capone and scored another minor role in “Farewell, My Lovely.”
Breakout Role in 'Rocky' and the Start of a Franchise
An unknown actor at the time, Stallone wrote the story of “Rocky” after he watched a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner. His script received high praise from producers and Stallone was offered $360,000 for the rights to it. After a brief back and forth negotiation about Stallone’s decision to play the lead character, he was given $1 million to make the film in 1976. Here’s how you can climb the iconic Rocky Steps yourself.
The pushback from Stallone proved to be worth it. Not only did the movie perform well at the box office, grossing $117.2 million domestically, but it also catapulted Stallone into instant fame and spawned several sequels. The movie also gave Stallone his first Academy Award nomination.
'Rocky II,' 'III,' 'IV' and 'V'
Stallone reprised his role as the famous boxer in “Rocky II” in 1979. But despite the success of the first, the second film didn’t perform as well, grossing a little over $85 million worldwide. However, audiences remained faithful to Stallone and showed up to the theaters to watch “Rocky III,” “Rocky IV” and “Rocky V” throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, making it a valuable movie franchise.
For his role as Rocky Balboa, Stallone earned more than $30 million, according to the Richest.
'First Blood' and Origin of Rambo
Stallone struck box office gold again when he starred as John Rambo in the classic action film “First Blood.” The movie Stallone wrote about the former Green Beret John Rambo evading capture from authorities in the mountains scored big with audiences, bringing in more than $125 million worldwide.
The success of “First Blood” was the beginning of another franchise for the action star. In 1985, Stallone reprised his role as Rambo in “Rambo: First Blood II.” The film grossed $150.4 domestically and $300.4 million worldwide, making it the highest-performing film of the “Rambo” series.
In 1988, the third installment of the franchise hit theaters, bringing in $189 million worldwide. Although the previous films performed well, the next “Rambo” film wasn’t released until 20 years later.
“Rambo,” released in 2008, made just over $18 million its opening weekend and grossed $113.2 worldwide, making it the worst-performing film in the franchise to date.
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In 2010, Stallone teamed up with fellow actors Jason Statham and Bruce Willis in the film “The Expendables.” Directed and written by Stallone, the movie about a CIA operative and his team didn’t disappoint at the box office, raking in nearly $275 million worldwide and grossing $103 million domestically. Even though critics didn’t love it, the movie still performed well.
Two years later, Stallone reprised his role as Barney Ross for the film’s sequel “The Expendables 2.” The cast included iconic action stars like Liam Hemsworth, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although the film did not perform as well domestically, it made nearly $315 million worldwide.
The last installment of the franchise hit theaters in 2014 but was the lowest-performing film of the three, making a little over $214 million worldwide.
The “Rocky” franchise continued with the 2015 release of “Creed,” starring Stallone and future “Blank Panther” star Michael B. Jordan. In the film, Rocky returns as a trainer to help mentor the son of his former rival Apollo Creed.
The spinoff/sequel made big bucks and hit big with critics, receiving a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and grossing $173.57 million worldwide. Stallone also received praise for his performance with an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor.
'Staying Alive' and Other Notable Films
Aside from being in front of the camera, Stallone has found success behind it, too. He has screenwriting credits for over 20 films including the dance film “Staying Alive” featuring John Travolta, “Cobra,” “Cliffhanger,” which was nominated for three Academy Awards, and “Driven.” For “Cliffhanger” and “Cobra,” Stallone earned $15 million and $13 million, respectively.
In 2013, Stallone teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action movie “The Escape Plan.” The movie about a man breaking out of prison received mixed reviews, earning a 50 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, the actor did get a hefty paycheck of $35 million for his role, according to the Richest.
More recently in 2017, Stallone played Stakar Ogord in the hit movie “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” starring Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana.
Upcoming Film Projects
Even in his 70s, Stallone isn’t slowing down. He seems to be someone who will never retire.
Stallone is set to star in “Escape Plan 2: Hades” and “Escape Plan 3: Devil’s Station.” Stallone will be reprising his roles as Rocky Balboa and Rambo in the upcoming films “Creed II” and “Rambo 5,” both hitting theaters within the next two years.
“The Expendables 4” is also expected to debut in 2019.
The actor’s movies have generated more than $4.4 billion in worldwide revenue making it clear why Stallone’s net worth continues to be so high.
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