Though Rocky, released November 21, 1976, tells the great underdog story of Rocky Balboa, the tale of how the movie got made is arguably an even more inspirational example of an outsider beating unthinkably long odds. In 1975, a down-on-his-luck actor named Sylvester Stallone was inspired to write a script about a working class boxer who earns a big fight against the champ and goes toe to toe with him for fifteen rounds after watching Chuck Wepner take on Muhammad Ali. Stallone then apparently banged out a first draft of the script in just three days. A number of substantial redrafts later, he sold the screenplay to producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff for $350,000 – with the condition that Stallone himself would be the movie's star. Winkler and Chartoff agreed, with their own caveats that Stallone would continue to work on the script for no fee and would be paid scale as an actor. United Artists balked at the idea of Stallone playing Rocky, slashing their initial $2 million budget in half and holding Winkler and Chartoff liable for any cost over $1 million. The men mortgaged their houses as a result, but they would get their money back – and then some. The movie caught the imagination of audiences and critics alike, earning rave reviews and over $100 million at the domestic box office. The movie with the tiny budget and breakneck 28-day shooting schedule ended up triumphing at the Academy Awards thar year, winning Best Picture as well as Best Director (for John G. Avildsen) and Best Film Editing. Stallone, who was one of seven other Oscar nominees on the movie, was catapulted to immediate stardom, and thanks to the success of the Rocky and Rambo franchises continues to this day to be a redoubtable self-made Hollywood hero, a tough guy who now writes and directs as well as stars in the movies he makes.