The Rocky Vs. Karate Kid Crossover That Almost Happened

Rocky almost had a crossover film with the Karate Kid as a potential sequel.

By Matthew Creith | Published

For moviegoers of the 1980s, there may be no better sports film about overcoming obstacles and finding inner peace than that of The Karate Kid. Starring a young Ralph Macchio, the movie became a staple of the decade and introduced a new generation of kids to the art of karate. While the film has spawned several sequels and a hit television series on Netflix, there was almost a crossover attempt between the Rocky franchise and that of The Karate Kid.

According to MovieWeb, many iterations of The Karate Kid had been kicked around for years since the success of the first film, including a concept that would see Rocky crossover with the characters from The Karate Kid. Ralph Macchio made the claim while being interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live! recently, stating that both original films from their respective franchises were directed by John G. Avildsen, so it wouldn’t have been out of the question to see a merging of the two films. However, that project never materialized even though there were pitches from writers that would have seen Rocky Balboa’s child mixing it up with Daniel LaRusso’s child, setting up a situation where both fathers would end up playing similar inspirational coach roles reminiscent of Mickey and Miyagi.

sylvester stallone rocky iv

Before Rocky and The Karate Kid were uttered in the same sentence, both films were incredibly successful in their own right. Rocky starred Sylvester Stallone in a role that would define his career as an action star, as the titular boxing underdog Rocky Balboa, which he would go on to play in five direct sequels. Rocky initially opened in 1976 and went on to gross over $225 million against a budget of nearly $1 million, winning a multitude of awards that included the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Director for John G. Avildsen.

Considered the Rocky for a new generation, 1984’s The Karate Kid starred Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso, a teenage karate student who learns the art of the sport in order to defeat his bullies in a tournament, facing his ultimate nemesis in Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka. The movie went on to gross over $130 million at the box office against a budget of only $8 million, sparking a wave of sequels that starred Macchio and were directed by Avildsen. Actor Pat Morita, who portrayed Mr. Miyagi, earned a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance, helping to revitalize his acting career.

Despite the fact that a crossover never happened between Rocky and The Karate Kid, both franchises have seen considerable success that has continued beyond their direct sequels. Rocky has morphed into a new set of films as part of its franchise, having Michael B. Jordan take on the role of Adonis Creed in Creed and two sequels that have followed. For its part, The Karate Kid has continued its storylines in a new format, a hit television series called Cobra Kai on Netflix, with Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles for the subscription streaming platform.