Eddie Murphy is back. Following his return to form with last year's sensationally entertaining biopic, Dolemite Is My Name, the former Saturday Night Live actor-comedian will reprise one of his most famous roles in Coming 2 America, the decades-in-the-making sequel to 1988's fish-out-of-water cult classic. While this famous comedy came along well into Murphy's ascension as an A-list comedy superstar, it remains one of his most beloved and quotable films. Therefore, the pressure is high with this much-anticipated return.
Now that over 30 years have passed between the first film and this upcoming sequel, one has to wonder if this follow-up, which is also known as Coming to America 2, will live up to the success of the celebrated original. While we don't have the answers there, we do know some key bits of information about Amazon Prime's newest comedy. Here are a few quick things we know about Coming 2 America.
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Shari Headley, John Amos, Louie Anderson, and James Earl Jones Will Reprise Their Characters
It'd be hard to make a Coming to America sequel without Eddie Murphy. Sure enough, he'll reprise his leading role as Prince Akeem Joffer in this forthcoming film. But in addition to Murphy coming back for this years-in-the-making sequel, we'll also see the return of several past co-stars, including (but not limited to), Arsenio Hall as Semmi, Akeem's best friend, Shari Headley as Lisa McDowell, the woman Akeem met, fell in love with, and married in the original, John Amos as Cleo McDowell, Prince Akeem's father-in-law, Louie Anderson as Maurice, a mid-level McDowell's employee, and James Earl Jones as King Jaffe Joffer.
With sequels, especially ones arriving this late in the game, you never know if everyone will return. Thankfully, we'll be reuniting with many favorite characters.
Coming 2 America Is Directed By Dolemite Is My Name’s Craig Brewer and Co-Written By Black-ish’s Kenya Barris
While the cast is filled with familiar faces, there were some notable changes made behind the scenes. While John Landis directed the original Coming to America, he's been replaced this time by Craig Brewer. Most recently, Brewer made Dolemite Is My Name, which proved to be a sharp success for him and a return-to-form for Murphy. Certainly, it's understandable that these two collaborators would want to work together again. Well, apparently, there's no time like the present!
It's not entirely surprising that Eddie Murphy and director John Landis aren't teaming up for this sequel. The two reunited for Beverly Hill Cop III six years later, they've kept their distance since. Additionally, Landis hasn't directed a movie since 2010's Burke and Hare.
Additionally, while Eddie Murphy, as well as Barry W. Blaustein and David Sheffield (both of whom wrote the original Coming to America), all contributed to the sequel's story, Coming 2 America's main writing credit goes to Kenya Barris. Barris is best known as the creator behind ABC's black-ish. He also created ABC's mixed-ish, Freeform's grown-ish, and Netflix's #BlackAF, which he also stars in. And he's the co-creator of America's Next Top Model alongside Tyra Banks.
Outside of television, his screenplay credits include Barbershop: The Next Cut, Girls Trip, 2019's Shaft, and the upcoming The Witches. Suffice to say, Kenya Barris has an impressive resume, one that only continues to grow in prominence. Certainly, penning this highly-anticipated sequel results in one of his biggest projects to date.
The Story Follows Prince Akeem Joffer Returning To America To Meet His Son
When you've got a sequel that's coming out over 30 years later, you better have a good story. There needs to be a great reason for bringing the band back together, especially when the first film is considered a comedy classic. We don't know if Coming 2 America will live up to its predecessor, but the synopsis is intriguing, at least.
In this upcoming sequel, as Deadline reported, we're reunited with Prince Akeem Joffer (Eddie Murphy), who's set to become King of Zamunda when he discovers that he has a previously-unknown son (Jermaine Fowler) living in Queens. Honoring the dying wish of his father (James Earl Jones), Prince Akeem returns to America, alongside his trusted aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall), to get acquainted with his own flesh and blood. Based on the logline alone, this sequel has potential!
Jermaine Fowler, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, KiKi Layne, And Tracy Morgan Join the Returning Cast
In addition to all the regular favorites returning for this decades-later sequel, the cast of Coming 2 America is also filled with a few new faces. Well, new to this newfound series, at least.
Most notably, Jermaine Fowler plays a prominent role as Lavelle, the long-lost (and previously unknown) son of Eddie Murphy's Prince Akeem Joffer. Additionally, Wesley Snipes takes on the role of General Izzi, SNL's Leslie Jones stars as Lavelle's mother, The Old Guard's KiKi Layne plays Meeka Joffer, Akeem's first daughter, and Tracy Morgan appears as Reem, Lavelle's uncle. It should also be noted that Rick Ross plays himself. Or, at least, some variation of himself. These are only a few of the cast members confirmed for this sequel. We're sure to get a few additional surprises along the way, too.
Samuel L. Jackson Will Not Be Back (Or So Eddie Murphy Says …)
Some folks forget that one of Samuel L. Jackson's earliest roles was in 1988's Coming to America. As a shotgun-wielding robber holding up McDowell's, this brief appearance was a stand-out role for the future A-lister, notably in the years prior to his Oscar-nominated performance in 1994's Pulp Fiction. When it came time to make the sequel, there were folks wondering if Jackson would squeeze in another cameo. But you shouldn't get your hopes up, according to Eddie Murphy.
In an interview with HipHollywood, Eddie Murphy admitted that Jackson is a famously busy actor, so it wasn't easy to find wiggle room in his schedule. Murphy claims there was scene in the sequel that showed Jackson's character robbing the same McDowell's 30-something odd years later. Alas, it didn't work out.
But it's also possible that Eddie Murphy is being coy and deceptive, hoping not to reveal a secret surprise appearance from Samuel L. Jackson. But for now, we'll have to take Murphy at his word.
Coming 2 America Will Also Star Eddie Murphy’s Daughter, Bella Zahra Murphy
In addition to all the prominent stars, returning players, and fresh newcomers who came together to make this anticipated comedy sequel, Coming 2 America also stars someone who is very near-and-dear to Eddie Murphy's heart: Bella Zahra Murphy, his 18-year-old daughter. The actor's seventh child is just getting into acting thanks to this new role, but her famous father believes it's the one that's gonna turn her into a star.
In an interview with AllHipHop, Eddie Murphy praised his daughter's performance, calling her "a really good little actress" and noting that he's very proud of her. Bella Zahra Murphy plays one of Prince Akeem Jaffar's daughters, and her father notes that she has fight scenes and other "cool stuff to do." He's obviously and quite understandably biased here, but we'll see soon enough if it's truly a star-making role.
It’s Streaming On Amazon Studios Starting December 18th, 2020
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has left the current state of theaters in an uncertain place. While a number of upcoming movies have pushed their release dates well into the 2021 calendar, many other films have switched to either VOD or streaming debuts in lieu of a traditional theater run. Now, Coming 2 America is the latest comedy to be given an early home release. It's also one of the most high-profile films to be pushed strictly to streaming.
Originally set to be distributed by Paramount Pictures, the studio sold this sequel to Amazon Prime for a reported $125 million. It's hard to know if that's better than what they would've earned with the film in a regular year. But in today's uneasy economic climate, it's certainly more money than the studio would've grossed if they went ahead with its intended theatrical release. The plan is to make it available to stream on December 18th.
Admittedly, there have been rumors circling for months that Paramount Pictures was looking to sell off the movie for an end-of-the-year release, notably after they traded The Lovebirds and The Trial of the Chicago 7 to Netflix earlier this year. But even though the streaming service found great success with Dolemite is My Name, the studio went to Amazon instead. This is notably only weeks after it was announced that Borat 2 — another sequel to a popular comedy — would hit their service later this month.
Whether or not this move opens the movie up to a wider audience will be determined soon enough. Coming 2 America is expected to premiere on December 18th.
Are you looking forward to Coming 2 America? Will you check out the long-awaited sequel when it arrives on Amazon Prime? Let us know below.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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