7. Knockout Success
Given all the challenges that had been shoved in the film's way so far, even Stallone, the one who had believed in in all the way through, couldn't have predicted what it would become.
"I had no idea it was ever going to have this sort of response. I just thought it was some nice footage. So when the screenings around Hollywood were getting this incredible response, with people responding to the fights as though they were happening at the time, I realised people were invested in this character.
"I began to get phone calls from powerful people around town and I thought, 'wow, this could actually be a hit. This could actually work.' I had no true confidence in it, because I had no film history, no film knowledge, I was working from instinct.
"Finally, it was being shown at the Director's Guild, and that was going to be the big test. 900 people or so had been invited, it was a packed crowd. And the movie was playing terribly.
"My mother was sitting next to me and the laughs weren't coming where they were supposed to be and the fights seemed listless. I sat there as everyone filed out of the theatre and I couldn't believe it.
"I said, 'Ma, it was nice while it lasted, but I guess when you show it to the big boys, they just don't buy it.' There was no one left in the cinema and even when I walked out and was going down the steps. By the time I got to the third flight, the entire audience was down there.
"They started to applaud. Really applaud. And I turned to my mother and said, 'How could you doubt me, mom? I'm shocked!' I just completely came apart. There will never be a moment like that again. I figured I'd go home, take my dog and try to eke out a living.
"It's been all downhill since!"
Not quite… The movie would go on to become the first sports-themed film to scoop Best Picture, with Avildsen winning Best Director and Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad taking Best Film Editing.
And that wasn't all - Rocky also got nominated for a couple of Best Supporting Actor gongs (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young), Best Actor/Best Screenplay for Stallone and Best Actress for Talia Shire.
Box office-wise, the film was a huge hit, earning more than $220 million around the world and more now that it has been on video and DVD for years.
Success spawns one thing in Hollywood, of course… Sequels.
Next: Rocky's Next Bouts