When the first “Rocky” movie was shot back in 1975 (released in 1976), they didn’t have a whole lot of money or a whole lot of time. The entire film cost just over a million dollars to produce, and it was shot in only 28 days – “the gestation time for a water bug,” as Sylvester Stallone so eloquently put it. So choosing locations in Philadelphia meant two things: get it cheap, and get it fast.
The iconic scene of Rocky Balboa heroically running the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum was both. Because the scene was filmed with a brand new piece of body-mounted camera equipment called a Steadicam (Rocky was its first commercial use), it allowed for fast and smooth shots with very little setup, and almost no additional equipment or lighting. Rocky ran the steps, the cameraman followed, and it was in the can.
There are 72 steps in front of the Art Museum, and since their appearance in Rocky and five of the sequels, they’re now known simply as the “Rocky Steps.” To commemorate their status as a major Philly tourist attraction, the bronze Rocky statue that first made an appearance in Rocky III has been permanently installed at the bottom of the steps. Cast in bronze and weighing in at three tons, it was created by sculptor A. Thomas Schomberg as a commission from Stallone himself for the third film.
There is an identical Rocky statue at the Hall of Champions Sports Museum in San Diego. If you want one for yourself, a third casting was planned and put up for auction, but it didn’t reach its asking price of $5 million. The price was dropped a couple of times, but it looks like the piece is still available. If you need a little three-ton inspiration to get you up your own stairs, your very own Rocky might just be the ticket.
Know Before You Go
The Philadelphia Art Museum is in downtown Philadelphia, along the Schuylkill River. The statue is to the right of the main steps - the "Rocky Steps".