We are firmly in the age of streaming services and there’s still one undeniable king: Netflix. But while the Great Red N once controlled the entire streaming landscape singlehandedly, now it’s facing some proper competition. Competition that is increasingly nipping at its heels in 2020 – a year that forced the world to stay home and get their entertainment online – as Netflix’s market share has slipped to just 25% in the US. And chomping on that delicious Achilles tendon with 21% is Prime Video, which has been making huge inroads thanks to its rapidly expanding library. The Amazon-owned streamer has added another big drawcard to that library with Coming To America 2.
Eddie Murphy’s long-gestating sequel to his classic John Landis-directed 1988 romantic-comedy was supposed to get a cinematic release on Christmas Day via Paramount Pictures. However, with the cinema industry in freefall at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that was a risky proposition. Enter Amazon Studios which forked out roughly $125 million to purchase the film from Paramount and drop it on Prime Video, according to Variety‘s insiders.
Coming to America is now pegged for an 18 December release and sees Murphy reprising his role as Akeem, who in the original was a charming but pampered and sheltered African prince who travelled to New York with his best friend/personal aide Semmi (Arsenio Hall) to escape an arranged marriage. After meeting potential new love interest, Lisa (Shari Headley) the completely out-of-their-depth Akeem and Semmi get minimum wage jobs at her father’s fast food restaurant to get closer to her.
The upcoming sequel is being directed by Craig Brewer (Dolemite is My Name) and sees Akeem about to replace his ailing father as king of the fictional nation of Zamunda, only to discover that he has an American son he never knew about, a street-savvy thirty-something New York native named Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). With the dying king wishing for his newly-discovered grandson to be groomed into the next crown prince, Akeem sets off with Semmi for America again. Besides for Murphy and Hall, a large part of the original cast will be back including Headley, John Amos, Paul Bates, and James Earl Jones. New additions include Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones, and Tracy Morgan.
With a stacked cast and solid premise (not to mention some good old nostalgia), this could be a hot ticket crowd-pleaser for Amazon Studios. The $125 million check the studio wrote reportedly also includes some lucrative marketing tie-ins with McDonald’s and whiskey brand Crown Royal. The other oldies like myself will remember that the McDonalds franchise – which at the time had not yet become the global phenomenon it is today – actually played a role in the first film as the rivals of Lisa’s family restaurant, McDowell’s, so this is not surprising. Reportedly, the finer details of this aspect of the deal still need to be hammered out with Murphy having the final say.
This is the second high-profile purchase Amazon Studios has made from Paramount this year, picking up Without Remorse, the upcoming Tom Clancy Adaptation starring Michael B. Jordan, back in July. With the deep pockets of its overall owner Jeff Bezos (just the world’s richest man, that’s all), Amazon has been making huge strides to close that now rather small gap with Netflix. On the original TV series front, it hass a bunch of very popular and award-winning shows out right now, and several MAJOR productions in development such as The Lord of the Rings (the most expensive TV series ever made). But the one aspect of Prime Video that was lacking was the original movie front. With the likes of The Vast of Night and 7500 earlier this year, and now the recent acquisition of Without Remorse and Coming to America 2, among others, that is rapidly changing.
Last Updated: October 16, 2020