‘Coming to America’ Sequel lands ‘Snatched’ director and ‘Black-ish’ creator.
Millennials may love Eddie Murphy for his role as Donkey in the Shrek movies but during the 1980’s he was one Hollywood’s biggest stars. Murphy became a phenom during his Saturday Night Live run and he carried that momentum forward into a string of classic films like 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop.
Back in April, development on a follow-up to the 1988 film Coming to America gained traction after Paramount hired two of the film’s original writers, Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield to pen the sequel’s script. It looks like Paramount means business because according to The Hollywood Reporter, 50/50 director Jonathan Levine will direct Coming to America 2 and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is onboard to rewrite the script. Most notably, the article states, “Although there is no deal in place, Murphy is involved with the development of the sequel — which will be produced by Kevin Misher — and is expected to star.”
Directed by John Landis, Coming to America tells the story of Akeem (Eddie Murphy), an African prince who leaves his homeland to escape an arranged marriage. Prince Akeem and his handler Semmi (Arsenio Hall), travel to Queens New York where they assume new identities and go off in search of a bride who will love him for more than his royal title.
A Coming to America follow-up makes a lot of sense for Paramount. Murphy has been one of Hollywood’s most profitable stars and Coming to America is one of his most memorable roles. Box Office Mojo lists Murphy’s lifetime box office gross at $3,811,107,808 ($6,714,821,200 when adjusted for inflation). Excluding his roles in animated movies, Coming to America is Murphy’s third most successful film. Beyond the box-office, the film has left a quantifiable cultural impact. Busta Rhymes’ classic 1997 music video, ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See’ and Action Bronson’s 2015 music video ‘Baby Blue’ both pay homage/borrow/steal Coming to America’s iconography. It’s shocking that Paramount didn’t get the production off the ground sooner.
Two things stand out about this announcement. First, it’s interesting the film is listed as Coming to America 2 rather than as a reboot or remake. Coming to America doesn’t call out to have its world revisited and I want to see what’s drawing the creative team back into Prince Akeem’s world after 30 years. Secondly, I haven’t seen Coming to America in a long time but if memory serves correct, it won’t hold up to 2017’s rigorous political correctness standards. Murphy and Hall played multiple characters, some of who are race-swapped. That’s in addition to some ethnic caricatures that will inevitably offend viewers. However, Kenya Barris is the ace up Paramount’s sleeve. Barris’ writing on Black-ish, one of TV’s smartest shows, consistently delivers sharp, poignant, and insightful social commentaries on uncomfortable issues. His inclusion will improve upon the original film’s cultural sensitivity quotient by 1000%.
By the way… if Paramount doesn’t call the movie “Coming 2 America,” somebody’s not doing their job.