That Time The Karate Kid’s Ralph Macchio Was Pitched A Crossover Film Featuring Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky

Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso in Cobra Kai dojo
(Image credit: Netflix)

In the nearly thirty years after Ralph Macchio starred as Daniel LaRusso in the Karate Kid movies and hung up the role, the actor apparently was no stranger to ideas being thrown his way about his return to the character before agreeing to the right idea in Cobra Kai. In Macchio’s new book, the actor has detailed some memorable pitches thrown his way over the years, including a Rocky vs. Karate Kid crossover. 

As Ralph Macchio’s memoir Waxing On: The Karate Kid And Me hits bookshelves, we’ve learned about some of the contents of the book, via Entertainment Weekly. In one excerpt from the new release, Macchio shared that in the late ‘90s, particularly a lot of ideas about reviving Karate Kid came to his desk at a time when he “wasn’t willing to listen.” However, one in particular he finds difficult to forget. In his words in Waxing On

It was delivered by a screenwriter to both John Avildsen and myself at a lunch with two studio executives. This was all and everything that is both great and terrible about Hollywood. I believe we were having the lunch to discuss a separate movie project that never did come to fruition. This was after the Hilary Swank version, The Next Karate Kid, had come and gone. I remember the enthusiasm with which the writer gave his ‘elevator pitch’ to John, me, and the studio execs. John had directed both Rocky and The Karate Kid, so that lent itself to this writer's conceptual idea.

Macchio called this pitch “one of my favorites.” Here’s how it went: 

What if Rocky Balboa had a kid and Daniel-san had a kid and they were both fuck ups and you, Ralph and Stallone, come together between New Jersey and Philadelphia to join in a Miyagi/Mickey style of fight training. People would go nuts!

Yeah… that’s a real idea that might have happened if Ralph Macchio and Karate Kid director John Avildsen agreed to it, but they both turned down it down. Macchio continued to explain his experience with the pitch, saying this: 

The most vivid image in my mind is the lean-in by the two studio executives, as if they were attempting to will it to make sense. John and I shared a mystified look about the concept of this crossover idea. My mind raced to gather visions of Stallone and me running through the slums of Newark. Then John burst into laughter, simply responding that it would not work and was a forced idea. I believe he diplomatically said he wasn't interested in combining those two franchises or those characters.

It’s true, this would have been unbelievably forced if it actually happened, especially because we’re talking about world heavyweight championships in Rocky vs. local karate All-Valley championships. They are different animals and they should remain as such. Luckily, both franchises have since found their own avenues past their main stories. Rocky has done so with the Creed movies, including the upcoming Creed III, and Karate Kid with five seasons of Cobra Kai, which arestreaming with a Netflix subscription

The idea that finally caught Ralph Macchio's attention and led to a major comeback for the franchise was Cobra Kai, which follows William Zabka’s Johnny Lawrence 30 years after losing to Daniel LaRusso, struggling to hold a job when he saves a teen kid and agrees to teach him the ropes of karate. While the show initially was a niche series on YouTube Red in 2018, since the series was acquired by Netflix, it has become a major hit, recently airing its fifth season and delivering more storylines in another season for us to ask questions about next

At the same time, it was recently announced that Sony Pictures is developing another Karate Kid movie, set to come out on June 7, 2024. For the time being, Ralph Macchio doesn’t know if he’ll be part of this mysterious Karate Kid movie. Either way, it’s doubtful it’ll be Rocky vs. Karate Kid

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.