As Eddie Murphy proved with his triumphant return to Saturday Night Live as host on December 21, there’s a lot of love out there for the former regular of that series as he reprised some of his most popular characters and sketches, like “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood” (a decidedly … urban … take on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood), Gumby (dammit!) and Buckwheat from The Little Rascals. He’s also generating excitement for the recently-filmed Coming to America 2 and the fact that he’s developing Beverly Hills Cop 4 as a film for Netflix. Significantly, the first entry in the latter film series, and one of his biggest hits, is currently celebrating its 35th anniversary.
Beverly Hills Cop, which was released in 1984, cast Eddie as Axel Foley, a Detroit cop whose pursuit of his best friend’s killers leads him to Beverly Hills, where he could not be more of a fish out of water — played to comic and exciting effect. That film’s producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, whose extensive list of credits include Tom Cruise‘s Top Gun, which gets a sequel in the form of Top Gun: Maverick next summer, reflects in an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, “Beverly Hills Cop was an enormous success. People don’t realize how big it really was. It was the highest-grossing R-rated movie until recently with The Hangover, and you know how many years that is. So it was a phenomenal success.”
“The conventional wisdom back then,” he continues with a laugh, “is that Paramount was really worried about having Eddie star in it, because, you know, for the African American actors who were there, there was a belief that there was a real ceiling on the gross of what they could do, especially in a lead character. But we only believed in Eddie’s talent and, fortunately for us, Paramount ultimately joined us in that.”
Not that they should have really had doubts. Eddie made his big screen debut in 1982’s 48 Hrs., co-starring Nick Nolte, which pulled in nearly $79 million. This was followed by 1983’s Trading Places, which featured Eddie alongside Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis, and which pulled in over $90 million. Yet Beverly Hills Cop blew pretty much everyone away when it amassed $316 million. It also spawned the sequels Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), which sees Axel going deep undercover to investigate a gang of international munitions smugglers, and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994) — the weakest entry in the series by far — which has Axel taking down a counterfeit money ring which is being run out of a Disney-esque theme park in Los Angeles.
Now, having scored a big success with the Netflix film Dolemite Is My Name, Eddie is teaming up again with Jerry and the streaming giant for Beverly Hills Cop 4, which is currently being developed. Little is known about the film at this time, though one would imagine that Axel is going to still be a fish out of water. “Oh, absolutely,” Jerry concurs. “Even more so. There are so many things we’re going to have fun with, with Eddie on this one.”
Big screen adventures have become far more competitive in recent years with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new Star Wars entry every time the audience turns around, and even such survivors as the James Bond and Mission Impossible franchises. Given all of that, it becomes even more challenging for a movie to stand out. It’s one of the reasons that Jerry is dipping back into his own past with Beverly Hills Cop 4 and Top Gun: Maverick.
“The more publicity or knowledge an audience has with a title that they like, it makes it much easier to not only get a new chapter made, but for them to feel like they would like to see where the character has gone over the years that he’s been off-screen, which has been 25 for Axel Foley and over 30 years for Maverick. We certainly got those characters right the first time and you want to satisfy the audience who want to know where they’ve been and what they’re doing now. It’s definitely a good problem to have.”
The Beverly Hills Cop trilogy, newly remastered and currently available on Digital in 4K Ultra HD, will be arriving in a three-movie Blu-ray collection from Paramount Home Video on January 14, 2020, and loaded with all sorts of extras. It also serves as the perfect appetizer for Beverly Hills Cop 4.
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