Filming began on January 19, 2015 in Liverpool, and later also took place in Philadelphia, Rocky's hometown. Creed was released in the United States on November 25, 2015, the fortieth anniversary of the date of the opening scene in 1976's Rocky. The seventh installment of the series and sequel to 2006's Rocky Balboa, the film received acclaim from critics, who called it the best Rocky film in many years. For his performance, Stallone was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, his first Oscar nomination since the original film. He won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Critics' Choice Award for Best Supporting Actor and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture, his first Golden Globe.
In 1998, Adonis "Donnie" Johnson, the son of an extramarital lover of former heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, is serving time in a Los Angeles youth detention center when Creed's widow, Mary Anne, visits and offers to take him in.
Seventeen years later, Donnie walks away from his job at a securities firm to pursue his dream of becoming a professional boxer. Mary Anne vehemently opposes his plot of becoming a boxer, remembering how her husband was killed in the ring against Ivan Drago thirty years ago. Donnie auditions at the Los Angeles's elite Delphi Boxing Academy, managed by family friend Tony 'Little Duke' Burton, son of Apollo and Rocky's trainer Tony 'Duke' Evers, but is turned down. Undaunted, Donnie travels to Philadelphia in hopes of getting in touch with his father's old friend and rival, former heavyweight champion, Rocky Balboa.
Donnie meets Rocky at Rocky's Italian restaurant, Adrian's, named in honor of his deceased wife, and asks Rocky to become his trainer. Rocky is reluctant to return into boxing, having already made a one-off comeback at a very advanced age despite having suffered brain trauma during his career as a fighter. However, he eventually agrees. Donnie asks him about the "secret third fight" between him and Apollo just after Apollo helped Rocky regain the heavyweight title, and Rocky reveals that Apollo won. Donnie trains at the Front Street Gym, with several of Rocky's longtime friends as cornermen. He also finds a love interest in Bianca, an up-and-coming singer and songwriter.
Donnie, now known as "Hollywood Donnie", defeats a local fighter, and word gets out that he is Creed's illegitimate son. Rocky receives call from the handlers of world light heavyweight champion "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, who is due to be forced into retirement by an impending prison term. He offers to make Donnie his final challenger—provided that he change his name to Adonis Creed. Donnie balks at first, wanting to forge his own legacy. However, he eventually agrees.
While helping Donnie train, Rocky learns he has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He is unwilling to undergo chemotherapy, remembering that it was not enough to save Adrian when she had ovarian cancer. His diagnosis and the fact that his best friend and brother-in-law Paulie Pennino—Adrian's brother—has now died in addition to Adrian, Apollo, and his old trainer, Mickey Goldmill, further force him to confront his own mortality. Seeing Rocky shaken, Donnie urges him to seek treatment.
Donnie fights Conlan at Goodison Park in Conlan's hometown of Liverpool, and many parallels emerge between the bout that ensues and Apollo and Rocky's first fight forty years earlier. First, before entering the ring, Donnie receives a present from Mary Anne — new American flag trunks similar to the ones Apollo and later Rocky wore. Additionally, to the surprise of nearly everyone, Donnie gives Conlan all he can handle. Conlan knocks Donnie down, but Donnie recovers to knock Conlan down for the first time in his career. Donnie goes the distance, but loses to Conlan wins on a split decision (just as Apollo retained his title by split decision against Rocky). However, Donnie has won the respect of Conlan and the crowd; as Max Kellerman puts it while calling the fight for HBO, "Conlan won the fight, but Creed won the night." Conlan tells Donnie that he is the future of the light heavyweight division.
The film ends with Donnie and a frail but improving Rocky climbing the 72 steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.Michael B. Jordan as Adonis "Donnie" Johnson Creed, "Hollywood Donnie": An underdog but talented light heavyweight boxer and the son of world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (played by Carl Weathers in Rocky I-IV and appearing in Creed in archive footage).
Alex Henderson as young Adonis Johnson
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, "The Italian Stallion": A two-time world heavyweight champion and Apollo's rival-turned-friend who becomes Adonis' trainer and mentor. He owns and operates an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia named after his deceased wife Adrian (Adrianna, née Pennino, played by Talia Shire in Rocky I-V).
Tessa Thompson as Bianca: A singer-songwriter who becomes Adonis' love interest.
Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed: Apollo's widow and Adonis' stepmother, who takes in Adonis as a child following the death of Adonis' biological mother.
Graham McTavish as Tommy Holiday: Conlan's trainer.
Wood Harris as Tony "Little Duke" Evers: One of Wheeler's assistant trainers. His father, Tony Sr. (played by Tony Burton in each preceding Rocky film), was a father figure for Apollo and was his trainer/manager when Apollo became world heavyweight champion. "Duke" then became one of Rocky's trainers for his rematch against Clubber Lang (Rocky III) and after Apollo's death.
Ritchie Coster as Pete Sporino
Tone Trump as himself
Brian Anthony Wilson as James
A number of figures (real-life fighters and trainers) from the sport of boxing play roles in the film:Tony Bellew as "Pretty" Ricky Conlan: A British fighter, and the world light heavyweight champion.
Andre Ward as Danny "Stuntman" Wheeler: A light heavyweight boxer
Gabriel Rosado as Leo "The Lion" Sporino: A light heavyweight boxer
Jacob "Stitch" Duran as himself: An esteemed cutman in both Boxing and Mixed martial arts, who is recruited by Rocky to be in Adonis' corner. He previously portrayed the cutman of Mason "The Line" Dixon (played by Antonio Tarver) in Rocky Balboa.
Liev Schreiber voices an HBO 24/7 announcer, while Michael Buffer cameos as himself serving as ring announcer. Other sports media personalities who appear include ESPN's Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Hannah Storm, and Max Kellerman, and HBO Sports' boxing announcer Jim Lampley.
On July 24, 2013, it was announced that MGM had signed on with Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler to direct a spin-off of Rocky, a seventh film in the Rocky series, which Coogler would also co-write with Aaron Covington. Sylvester Stallone also worked on the screenplay for the seventh film. The film would focus on a man following in the footsteps of his late father, Apollo Creed, and getting a mentor in the now-retired Rocky Balboa. Michael B. Jordan was set for the role of Creed's son, Adonis Creed, and Stallone was set to reprise his character of Rocky. Original producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff would produce, along with Stallone and Kevin King-Templeton. On April 25, 2014, while talking to THR, Coogler stated that he had sent his latest draft to the studio, and confirmed the involvement of Jordan and Stallone.
On November 10, real-life boxers Tony Bellew and Andre Ward joined the film, with Bellew to play a fighter, "Pretty" Ricky Conlan, the main opponent for Creed. Shooting was set to begin in January 2015, in Las Vegas and Philadelphia. On December 16, Tessa Thompson was added to the cast as the female lead. On January 8, 2015, Phylicia Rashad reportedly joined the film to play Mary Anne Creed, Apollo's widow. On January 21, Graham McTavish tweeted about his involvement in the film.
Principal photography began on January 19, 2015 on location at Goodison Park, with the first scene shot taking place during a Barclays Premier League football match between Everton (of which Stallone and native Evertonian Bellew are fans) and West Bromwich Albion. Goodison would later host both the climactic film fight between Donnie and Conlan and also Bellew's real-life title fight against Ilunga Makabu in May 2016, which was the first outdoor boxing match in Liverpool since 1949.
Filming also took place in Philadelphia. In early February, an empty store in Philadelphia was converted into a boxing gym, where some training scenes were shot.
On February 13, the crew was spotted filming in the Victor Cafe in South Philadelphia. The cafe was transformed into the "Adrian's Restaurant", and crew were again spotted filming there on February 16. Stallone and Jordan were also spotted on the set of the film on February 18. From February 24–27 and then on March 3, filming took place at Sun Center Studios in Aston Township.
The musical score for Creed was written by Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson, who is only the third composer in the history of the Rocky series, following Bill Conti (Rocky I, II, III, V, and Balboa) and Vince DiCola (Rocky IV). Creed also features a soundtrack that consists mostly of music new to the series, including hip hop tracks by artists such as Future, Meek Mill, and White Dave. Both a score and a soundtrack album were released on November 20, 2015 by WaterTower Music and Atlantic Records, respectively. One tribute to Conti's original soundtrack is included - the track "You're a Creed" uses both "Gonna Fly Now" and "Going The Distance".
On February 3, 2015, Warner Bros. slated the film to be released domestically on November 25, 2015. This date coincides with the 40th anniversary of the opening scene in the original film, where Rocky fights Spider Rico.
On December 20, 2015, screeners of numerous prospective awards contenders, including Creed, were uploaded to torrent sites. The FBI has linked the case to co-CEO Andrew Kosove of Alcon Entertainment. Kosove claimed that he had "never seen this DVD", and that "it never touched his hands".
Creed grossed $109.8 million in North America and $63.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $173.6 million, against a budget of $35 million.
In North America, Creed opened on Wednesday, November 25, 2015, alongside The Good Dinosaur and Victor Frankenstein, as well as the expanding wide releases of Brooklyn, Spotlight and Trumbo. The film was originally projected to gross $35 million from 3,404 theaters in its first five days, including $20 million in its opening weekend. However, after grossing $1.4 million from its Tuesday night previews (a record for a Thanksgiving week release) and $6 million on its opening day, five-day projections were increased to $39–42 million. The film ended up grossing $42.6 million in its first five days, including $30.1 million in its opening weekend, finishing third at the box office.
Creed has received critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, gave the film a rating of 95% based on 260 reviews, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The site's consensus reads, "Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 82 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
A.V. Wire's Herman Dhaliwal gave the film a very positive review, writing, "I will say the film was everything I could have ever wanted and then some. It’s a film that could have gone so wrong in so many ways so easily, but the results show something that is genuine and inspired. It takes the smartest possible routes with the story it wants to tell and delivers in basically every way it needed to. Ryan Coogler cements himself as one of the best rising filmmakers working today, as he crafts an emotional, funny, compelling and uplifting film that is full of strong performances." Andrew Barker of Variety stated that the film lives up to the expectation of its predecessors, while forging its own unique path. He also appreciated the performances of Stallone and Jordan, saying that Stallone deserves credit for taking a chance on young director Coogler, and that his trust has paid off. He concluded that the director "offered a smart, kinetic, exhilaratingly well-crafted piece of mainstream filmmaking". IGN reviewer John Lasser gave the film an 8.5 out of 10, saying, "Creed is a mirror of Rocky's story and we have all been watching that unfold on the big screen for decades. Coogler's film does nothing to break the mold. Rather, it shows that the mold exists for a reason. Jordan delivers a knockout performance, and Stallone does as well. In the end, we can all only hope that we'll get to see Adonis on screen for just as long as we've seen Rocky."
In January 2016, Sylvester Stallone and MGM CEO Gary Barber confirmed that a sequel to Creed is in development. That same month, it was reported that the sequel's release date was tentatively set for November 2017. Development was seemingly delayed by the announcement Coogler had cast Michael B. Jordan in his next film, Marvel's Black Panther; thus delaying production until both men's schedules permit. A confrontation between Adonis Creed and Ivan Drago was hinted to via Instagram. Stallone later confirmed that he had finished writing the script for the sequel, which would see Dolph Lundgren reprising his role as Ivan Drago from Rocky IV.