Chalk up another loss for the theatrical market. Paramount Pictures has reportedly licensed rights to the Eddie Murphy sequel Coming 2 America to Amazon Prime Video for $125 million. The movie, co-starring original headliners Murphy and Arsenio Hall, is slated to bow on Prime Dec. 18 — the same date as the original theatrical launch, according to Deadline, which first reported the move.
Co-stars in the sequel, in which Akeem (Murphy) learns he has a long-lost son in the United States and must return to meet the unlikely heir to the throne of Zamunda, include Tracy Morgan, Wesley Snipes, Leslie Jones and Jay Pharaoh.
Amazon had been relatively quiet on content spending in 2020 compared with rivals Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and Apple — reportedly slated to spend $6 million on original content this year before the coronavirus hit.
Now the deal represents another high-profile theatrical steal for Amazon Studios under the direction of Jennifer Salke, following deals for Sasha Baron Cohen’s second Borat flick, and Dave Bautista’s My Spy.
The 1988 original Coming to America was a blockbuster for Paramount, generating $128 million at domestic screens and $288 million worldwide — just behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Rain Man.
The transaction leaves just four high-profile studio movies still on the theatrical calendar in 2020, including Open Road’s Honest Thief on Oct. 16; 20th Century’s Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds on Dec. 11; Death on the Nile with Kenneth Branagh reprising Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth detective Hercules Poirot on Dec. 18; and Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman 1984 on Christmas.
Studios have repeatedly pushed back big-budget releases to 2021 as theaters grapple with pandemic closures and limited seating at screens that are open. With Warner’s espionage thriller Tenet failing to bring consumers in the U.S. back to the cineplex, the domestic box office is trending nearly 80% below 2019 levels.