Every week, as the train carries me home from New York City after filming my regular Tuesday appearances on Fox Business, I see something that always reminds me of one of the most iconic home-grown heroes in American cinema history. In fact, let me show it to you, and let’s see if you recognize it:
Some of you may identify this as the stairs leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Probably many more of you know it as the steps that the titular hero climbed in the first Rocky movie, while training for his bout against Apollo Creed. Combined with the inspirational song “Gonna Fly Now”, this has become one of the truly iconic scenes in American cinema.
For those not familiar with the American classic, Rocky is the rags-to-riches story of local Philly loan shark enforcer (with a heart of gold) and struggling small-time boxer, Rocky Balboa. The film was written by and starred Sylvester Stallone, in which his underachieving character is given the chance of a lifetime – a fight against the heavyweight champion of the world.
Much like the incredibly long odds that Rocky faced against his world champion opponent, the film itself faced similar odds in even getting off the ground. When the Rocky screenplay got its first offer from a studio, it came with the condition that an established star (which Sly was not at the time) would play the lead role. Stallone, despite being so broke he allegedly sold his dog just days earlier for $50, so believed in his ability to portray his image of the downtrodden everyman turned hometown hero that he actually turned down a $350,000 payday to sell the rights and not star in the movie.
And much like his character, Stallone took a huge risk (along with a 90% pay cut) to star in the movie, and turned it into a massive success. Rocky was a huge hit that spawned a series of sequels that made Stallone a bona fide Hollywood star – and a multi-millionaire in the process.
Turning our attention from the movies to the markets, we see quite a few headlines about slowing economic growth abroad and the downturns it causes to quite a few American companies.