It is rare to watch a film and forget that you're watching a screen. Now that sports drama Creed is out in theaters, however, that's exactly what will happen if you're a Philadelphia native or call Philly your adopted home like I do.
Being from New York, recognizing your hangout spots in films and TV is nothing new for me. Hell, much of the Marvel universe is set in New York, and the Avengers even fought at Grand Central. As a result of this common occurence, I never truly understood how much shooting on location can affect the final product or, more importantly, how much that sense of reality could mean for an audience. Yet, when I saw Creed at Chestnut Street's Prince Theater in Philadelphia, PA, my entire view changed, and I was immediately sucked into this world that the director and filmmakers had created. Watching the audience laughing at their telltale lingo and scream out things like, “That's my house!” and “I love those Cheese steaks!” reminded me of how amazing it is for a film to truly “get" the vibe of a city.
Put simply, the city of Philadelphia itself is one of the major reasons this film feels so real. When the first Rocky was released, it changed the way the world at large viewed Pennsylvania's largest city, effectively putting it on a much bigger map. The film even knocked out the competition at the 1976 Oscars, winning Best Director, Best Film Editing, and the most coveted prize, Best Picture.
With all this historical relevance in mind, Rocky means a lot to the average Philly native. There's a statue immortalizing the character at the top of those iconic art museum steps where he redefined the training montage. For many Philadelphia natives, Rocky is such an icon that he transcends his fictional status; some even believe that Rocky is an actual historical figure. He is the ultimate underdog, and Philadelphia is more than happy to call him family.
The homegrown love for Rocky brings us to Creed and a continued legacy it has earned. A few weeks back, the city held a press conference where Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia, officially declared November 25th “Creed Day” in the City of Brotherly Love.
As I walked into Creed with all this hype around legacy in mind, I was a bit skeptical if a non-Philly native cast as well as a non-Philly native director could convincingly pull off the city’s character. Yet, all it took was a few quick conversations with Philly residents to alleviate any lingering fears. Here's just a smattering of the praise I heard at the premiere:
“You have never been to Philly, YOU HAVE NOW after seeing this movie. Not a single thing in this movie was faked. From the lingo to the locations, this is the real Philadelphia!”
“Creed is a fantastic film to represent Philadelphia on the world stage. It had huge shoes to fill, but it filled them just right. And it's no small thing that this premiered here, in Philadelphia, in the same theater that the original Rocky premiered in back in 1977! If Creed had premiered in Los Angeles or New York, it would have still been a great film, but it's here in Philadelphia where it was meant to be!"
For Philly natives, Creed is more than just a great film that may have an Academy award coming it's way.