Hollywood legend is that studios wanted to buy the script for Rocky, but Sylvester Stallone wouldn’t sell it unless he had the starring role. They wanted a big name, not an unknown, to carry the picture. The offer got up to $400,000 and still Stallone refused even though he was practically broke.
Stallone's script is based on a true story of a club fighter who lasted 15 rounds against Mohammed Ali in his prime.
Eventually they offered him $25,000 for the script with him in the lead role and a small production budget.
Whether true or not, it made a great underdog story. The movie became a Hollywood classic, it was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won best movie of 1976, beating three other film classics, All the President's Men, Network, and Taxi Driver.
During his lean years Stallone had a beloved Bullmastiff he named Butkus. With no money coming in and a pregnant wife, it broke his heart, but he knew he had to sell his dog. So he advertised him for $100 and sold him for $50.
A short time later when the studio agreed to let Stallone play the lead, he was determined to get Butkus back. However the new owner insisted that his kids had grown to love the dog and refused to sell him.
According to Stallone he ended up paying $3000 to get Butkus back. A lot of money for a starving actor, pocket change for a big star.
The Rocky script called for a scruffy dog to be Rocky’s training partner. Since the film budget couldn’t extend to hiring a dog and trainer, Butkus got his big show business break even though he weighed a hefty 112 pounds. He also appeared in Rocky II.
He even got a film creditButkus Stallone .... Rocky's dog