Sylvester Stallone is launching a new production company for film and TV projects, and he's calling it Balboa Productions, named for his character from the Rocky franchise.
After kicking off his acting career in the 1974 political thriller No Place to Hide, Stallone eventually made his claim to fame two years later in Rocky, which he starred in and wrote. The movie went on to earn 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay nods for Stallone, and win three, including Best Picture. Since then, there have been four direct sequels, as well as the spinoff Creed, which earned Stallone his second nomination for the same character. Now, as a nod to the character that made him a household name, Stallone is launching a film and TV production company that directly references the Rocky franchise.
According to THR, Stallone has partnered with Braden Aftergood, whose producing credits include Hell or High Water, Lone Survivor, and Wind River, to create Balboa Productions. The budding company is also partnering with Starlight Culture Entertainment for development funding, with whom Stallone entered into a multi-year deal. And even though the partnership was just recently put into effect, Balboa Productions is already in the process of developing its first project: a biopic based on the very first African-American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson. Production on the movie is being overseen by MGM's motion picture group president Jonathan Glickman and executive vice president of production Adam Rosenberg.
While the boxing narrative seems fitting for a production company named after one of cinema's most iconic fictional boxers, there is an even deeper element connecting Jack Johnson's life story to Stallone. In 1913, Johnson was arrested for traveling with his white girlfriend across state lines, which was viewed as an illegal and racially motivated act; 72 years after after Johnson's death in 1946, Stallone successfully aided in convincing US President Donald Trump to officially pardon the late boxer.
Even though Stallone is often associated with pulpy action fare like the Rambo and Expendables series, his career was essentially launched out of one of the most beloved underdog stories in movie history. So, with that being the case, it's fitting that the first movie from his own production company would reflect similar themes. Balboa Productions could prove to be yet another successful venture for the Hollywood icon, gearing him up for the sort of awards-friendly material that originally launched his career.