‘Coming to America 2’ Moving Forward with Eddie Murphy

Nancy Bilyeau
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A sequel to the 1988 hit comedy Coming to America is going forward, with Eddie Murphy returning as African Prince Akeem, media reports confirm. The film is also trying to bring Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones and John Amos back to reprise their roles.

Craig Brewer, best known for Hustle & Flow, The Legend of Tarzan, and the TV series Empire, is directing the sequel.

“After many years of anticipation, I’m thrilled that Coming to America 2 is officially moving forward,” Murphy said in a statement, according to Entertainment Weekly. “We’ve assembled a great team that will be led by Craig Brewer, who just did an amazing job on Dolemite [Is My Name], and I’m looking forward to bringing all these classic and beloved characters back to the big screen.”

Production is expected to begin in 2019.

Eddie Murphy at the Tribeca Film Festival for Shrek Forever After in 2010. Photo by David Shankbone – flickr CC BY 2.0

Deadline reports that in the sequel, “Akeem learns about a long lost son, and must return to America to meet his unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda. The intention is to bring back the original cast which includes Arsenio Hall, who played the prince’s aide Semmi; Shari Headley, who was courted by the prince when he went undercover as a fast food worker; John Amos, who played her father; and James Earl Jones, who played the king.”

American actor Arsenio Hall at the 41st Annual Emmy Awards. Photo by Alan Light CC BY 2.0

Eddie Murphy is enthusiastic about appearing in the film because of Craig Brewer’s work in Dolemite, in which he plays a self-made blaxploitation film star alongside Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Rock, and Craig Robinson. The movie will be released by Netflix.

Kenya Barris, creator of Black-ish, is working on the Coming to America 2 script, originally penned by Coming to America writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield.

Kenya Barris. Photo by Peabody Awards CC BY 2.0

“Craig’s ability to create a distinct cinematic world with each of his films is not only impressive, but also what made him exactly the voice and vision we needed to bring this story to life,” Barris said. “From Hustle and Flow to his work with Eddie on Dolemite Is My Name, he never fails to blow me away. He is a true auteur and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have him on board.”

In the original film, Murphy plays a prince bored with his sheltered life and not interested in marrying an African princess selected for him. He and his friend, played by Arsenio Hall, travel to New York City, where they end up as employees at a McDonald’s-like fast food restaurant in Queens.

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall during Eddie Murphy Visits ‘The Arsenio Hall Show’ – July 13, 1987 at Fox TV Studios in Hollywood, California, United States. Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

The restaurant where much of the film took place was actually a Wendy’s on Queens Boulevard that was scheduled to be closed for renovation. Murphy played multiple characters in the  film, something which afterward become a trademark of his.

A major star of the 1980s, Murphy picked John Landis to direct this film. The pair had previously worked together on 1983’s Trading Places. However, on Coming to America they had many disagreements.

Photo by Getty Images

Murphy later said, “We had a tussling confrontation… We didn’t come to blows. Personalities didn’t mesh. He directed me in Trading Places when I was just starting out as a kid, but he was still treating me like a kid five years later during Coming to America. And I hired him to direct the movie!”

The two patched up their differences, and worked together again on Beverly Hills Cop 3. The film is also the subject of a famous screenplay lawsuit. Humorist and columnist Art Buchwald sued Paramount Pictures, alleging that they stole his script idea and turned it into this movie.

During the lawsuit, Paramount attempted to argue that the film had not made enough money for Buchwald to be compensated. Worldwide, Coming to America has grossed $288,752,301.

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Buchwald won the lawsuit, and was awarded damages. Paramount settled with him for the amount of $900,000.