Rocky & Karate Kid Almost Met in a Crossover Film, Says Macchio
It's not a stretch to say the late-director John G. Avildsen sort of cornered the market on underdog stories in the 1970's and 1980's. Following his Oscar-winning direction in the classic 1975 film Rocky (coming back in 1990 to direct Rocky V), he went on to direct the hit 1984 film The Karate Kid which went on to have two direct sequels, a loose sequel with a different titular hero, and a 2010 reboot. Both saw an outsider, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and Daniel Russo (Ralph Macchio), getting a chance to overcome adversity to become the best of their respective fighting styles, namely boxing and karate, respectively. And, as it turns out, Hollywood also noted the similarities and almost saw them crossover in a film.
In an UPROXX interview, Macchio himself confirmed the crossover while simultaneously praising the writers for being ahead of their time based on the shared universe concept that has essentially taken over the current movie industry. Macchio also found the pitch to be original and would have worked well, going into the basic premise in the following quote from the interview:
"They both have kids who are screwed up, and they meet somewhere between Philly and Newark. The reason I mentioned that one is because it came from legitimate writers, and it was also someone from the studio at the table, so everyone was willing it to make sense, but then everyone realized, 'That’s kind-of crazy.' The reason I love that example is that today, you have Batman and Superman dancing the tango. You can do anything with multiverses and Spider-verses, so it was almost ahead of its time, even though it didn’t make sense at the moment. In the book, I write about it being more about the fans wanting to see these characters and less about trying to come up with the next big idea. Now and decades later, they are seeing more of these characters, and it’s quite extraordinary."
He's not wrong as Macchio is currently co-starring in a hugely successful and critically-acclaimed sequel series of The Karate Kid. Titled Cobra Kai, the series recently concluded it's fifth season on Netflix with a sixth season and potential spin-offs in the works. In regards to Rocky, the original film series went on to make six wildly popular installments and now a third film in the Creed spin-off franchise is set to hit theaters in March 2023. A spin-off film focusing on Ivan Drago and his son is also in development while Stallone himself is considering several separate spin-off projects including a prequel concept and a sequel that sees Rocky mentor a Mexican immigrant with boxing talent. Obviously, many wonder when it might be considered milking (and for some of our own commentators, it's already happened), but it does speak to the enduring legacy of these two franchises. Ones that, at least with their original franchises, are cemented in cinematic history. Stay tuned!