“Creed III” has just been pushed to 2023, but MGM clearly has confidence in the sequel’s success. The company is continuing to aggressively expand the franchise by developing a new spin-off film, “Drago,” from screenwriter Robert Lawton (via The Wrap).
While plot details are scarce, the name “Drago” is instantly recognizable to fans of the Rocky franchise. Ivan Drago, the Russian boxer played by Dolph Lundgren in “Rocky IV,” is one of Rocky Balboa’s most iconic foes. In “Creed II,” Lundgren returned as Ivan Drago and Florian Munteanu was introduced as Viktor Drago, his son who squared off against Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed.
While it is not confirmed if Lundgren and Munteanu are returning for the film, the premise appears to follow the “Creed” formula by telling the story of the son of a famous Rocky Villain (Jordan’s Adonis Creed is the son of Rocky’s original opponent, Apollo Creed).
The news is the latest indicator that the “Rocky” franchise has every intention of continuing to expand and thrive in a post-Sylvester Stallone world. Stallone returned as Rocky Balboa in both “Creed” and “Creed II,” also taking on a larger behind-the-scenes creative role in the sequel. But he won’t be on hand for “Creed III,” handing the writing and directing reins over to Michael B. Jordan and allowing Adonis Creed to stand alone in the spotlight.
“I think that Sly let it be known that he wasn’t coming back for this one but I think, you know, his essence and his spirit… there’s always going to be a little bit of Rocky within Adonis,” Jordan recently said. “But this is a ‘Creed’ franchise, and we really want to build this story and this world around [Adonis Creed] moving forward.”
Though Stallone’s involvement with the franchise may be over, the newer and younger “Rocky” franchise isn’t straying from the hard-hitting energy that made the original films so beloved. Jonathan Majors, who stars in “Creed III,” recently revealed that he was punched in the face 100 times while shooting the film.
“Creed III” will be released in theaters on March 3, 2023. There is currently no scheduled release date for “Drago.”