Rocky IV is my favorite of the Rocky franchise, and I’ve rewatched it many times. This week Sylvester Stallone announced he would be leaving out scenes from Rocky IV in the upcoming 35th-anniversary cut. Stallone did direct the film, so it is sort of his preference. The issue is that Rocky IV was completed and released 35 years ago and doesn’t need to be changed. The reality though, is that in light of recent successful adjustments to other significant films, this may be the future.
In this case, Stallone only mentioned that he would be cutting out Sico, the robot that has a few small appearances in the film. This omission seems like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but the robot is still a part of the original vision of the successful Rocky IV. Sico adds some levity to a somewhat dark and dramatic movie while demonstrating how successful Rocky has become in the story. It is also a sign of the time the film was released. Robots and technology were massive in the 1980s. Some of the best science fiction ever created came out of that period.
In the film, the robot serves as a joke and gift for Rocky’s brother in law Paulie. By the end of the movie, Sico is hardly a memory. Its removal will likely make for only 2-3 awkward cuts between scenes if any. Although it won’t impact the movie’s story, Rocky fans should still be upset at their beloved piece of art changing for everyone because of one individual’s opinion. Cinephiles, in general, should be upset because of the contribution this change is making to a worrisome growing trend.
Should we be changing published art? We’ve seen success with Sonic the Hedgehog changing the character’s design after the first trailer received criticism. That film has gone on to be the most successful video game film of all time. Now we are seeing Justice League get a second life just at the promise of redoing how it was previously released. How much money and attention would the mention of reworking the finale of Game of Thrones get? Should the buzz and money be all that art is? Should we always get what we ask for and comment about online? Think of the impact it would have made if Leonardo da Vinci publicly walked up to the Mona Lisa and painted over the original. Would the original be lost entirely or have an asterisk?
So it’s something to think about going forward. If you happen to be watching Rocky IV down the line and realize something is missing or the film seems a little more dreary, it’s because it is. This decision by Stallone is just another early mark in this trend that could become a foundation of money-making on films and art in the future. Why create a new movie when you can just recut an existing one?