Paramount is moving forward with the long-gestating sequel Coming to America 2, setting a new director and writer. Jonathan Levine (Snatched) has come aboard to direct this Coming to America sequel, working from a script by Kenya Barris (Black-ish, Barbershop: The Next Cut). The project was first rumored earlier this year, but was eventually confirmed, and now it seems the studio is moving forward on this sequel.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news on this sequel, which comes five months after original Coming to America writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield were brought on by Paramount to write the script. It isn’t clear if Kenya Barris will be working from their draft, or if he will be doing a page-one rewrite and starting from scratch. Paramount hasn’t set a release date or a production schedule yet, but with a new director and writer aboard, that may happen sooner rather than later.
The report also reveals that Eddie Murphy is involved with the development of this sequel, although no official deal has been finalized at this time. What’s odd is the first word fans got of this sequel was in March, when the actor’s official, verified Twitter account posted a tweet that simply read, “Coming to America sequel?” That announcement also included a photo of Vanessa Bell Calloway’s character Princess Imani, but shortly after the tweet was sent, Eddie Murphy completely erased his entire Twitter account. A report from TMZ claimed that the actor didn’t send the tweet, since that verified account is run by his social media team, and that the actor himself was in the early stages of writing the script for the sequel.
The original Coming to America starred Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem from the wealthy African country of Zumunda, whose parents, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) and Queen Aoleon (Madge Sinclair) reveal the bride they’ve arranged for him to marry, Princess Imani (Vanessa Bell Calloway). Akeem has no intention of marrying her, though, telling his father that he wants to go to America and “sow his royal oats,” but he really wants to find the right woman to be his bride. Both Akeem and his servant Semmi (Arsenio Hall) make their way to Queens, New York, where he falls for the daughter (Shari Headley) of a knock-off fast food restaurant.
The original movie was a huge box office hit, and also provided early roles for future movie stars Samuel L. Jackson and Cuba Gooding Jr. The movie earned $128.1 million domestic and $288.7 million worldwide, although no budget figures were disclosed. While that number may not seem huge by today’s standards, this comedy hit was the third highest-grossing movie of 1988, behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit? ($156.4 million) and Rain Man ($172.8 million). Its $128.1 million gross in 1988 equates to a $277.1 million total, when you adjust for inflation. Jonathan Levine most recently directed Snatched, which hit theaters this summer starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn, with Kenya Barris most recently writing the scripts for Barbershop: The Next Cut and Girls Trip, and he was also set to write the Son of Shaft sequel as well.