'Rocky' successor 'Creed' highlights Philadelphia's revival
By Daniel Kelley
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - In the final scene of the movie "Creed," aging boxer Rocky Balboa stands atop the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and surveys the gleaming steel and glass office towers of the city's skyline.
The 72 stone steps look the same as they did when Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, ran up them in the famous training montage from 1976's Academy Award-winning "Rocky." But the view in "Creed," which opens on Wednesday in theaters nationwide, is clearer and brighter, reflecting Philadelphia's revival.
"In the 1970's, this city was right in middle of half a century of population decline," said Larry Eichel, director of the Pew Charitable Trust's Philadelphia Research Initiative. "In the last eight years, the city has grown by 72,000 people. That's not as much as other cities, but when you put it in the context of a half century of decline, it's an achievement."
"Creed" comes at a time when the city of 1.6 million is basking in the international limelight. Close to 1 million people packed into downtown Philadelphia in September for Pope Francis' historic first visit to the United States. In July, it will host the Democratic Party's presidential nominating convention.
The film is the seventh in the "Rocky" series, which long focused on a gritty, declining Philadelphia, which like many major U.S. cities was hurt by the loss of its industrial base.
Many Philadelphians have long loved the series, created by New York-born Stallone. The cast bronze statue of Balboa that appeared in 1982's "Rocky III" and stands at the foot of the art museum stairs remains a powerful tourist draw.
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