VALLEY VIEW, Ohio -- As a world tour for the highly anticipated "Creed II" began to take form, Steven Caple Jr. had one request.
The film's director was cool with a premiere in New York City and future stops in London and even Africa. He just wanted to make sure he could fit a trip to his hometown of Cleveland in along the way.
On Thursday evening, Caple did just that, premiering the sequel to 2015's "Creed" and eighth installment of the "Rocky" franchise at the Cinemark at Valley View. The film, starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson, takes place in locations such as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Brooklyn, Russia and Ukraine. But its Cleveland influence is evident thanks to Caple, a graduate of Baldwin Wallace.
"Each one of those cities as their own identity. Overall, for the tone of the film, we wanted to keep certain identities alive and distinct for each one, but at the same time, we wanted to have this sort of grounded-ness," Caple told WKYC after the premiere. "This blue-collar feel that Philly definitely has is very similar to Cleveland, Ohio. So when people watch the film, I definitely wanted it to feel real. That whole touch on that with this particular movie comes from me. How I personally see the world and saw these characters.
"And if it's about me, then you definitely know it's about Cleveland because that's what's embedded inside, this is where I grew up."
"Creed II" marks Caple's second feature film, following 2016's "The Land," which earned critical acclaim on the film festival circuit.
Directing a big budget film produced by a major studio obviously presented a different set of challenges for the 30-year-old Caple. But that didn't stop him from putting his own spin on one of Hollywood's most iconic franchises.
"I knew it was a commercial piece. People were scared it was going to be bigger and lose its grounded-ness," Caple said. "Obviously, being from here, I definitely wanted to keep that down to earth feel in all my films."
According to an official release, the premise of "Creed II" is as follows:
"Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history."
It hits theaters nationwide on Nov. 21.