Coming to America (1988): Eddie Murphy as African Prince

Made at the height of his career, Coming to America is a high-concept comedy  based on the premise of mistaken identity.  Eddie Murphy stars as a pampered African prince named Akeem, who rebels against an arranged marriage and heads to America to find a new bride.

Coming to America
Coming to America

Murphy’s regal father (James Earl Jones) allows the prince 40 days to roam the U.S., sending the prince’s faithful retainer Semmi (Arsenio Hall) along to make sure nothing bad happens. To avoid fortune hunters, Prince Akeem conceals his true identity and gets a “Joe job” at a fast-food restaurant.

Murphy and Hall play multiple roles, and there are many cameos by the likes of the Duke Brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) from Murphy’s star vehicle, “Trading Places.”

Coming to America made headlines when humorist Art Buchwald sued the film’s producers for plagiarizing one of his works.  Buchwald took the case to trial and won.

Made on a budget of $36 million, the movie was hugely popular at the box-office, earning over $300 million.


Oscar Nominations: 2

Costume design: Deborah Nadoolman

Makeup: Rick Baker

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Costume Design Oscar was James Acheson for “Dangerous Liaisons.”

The Makeup Oscar went to Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice.”




Directed by John Landis
Produced by George Folsey Jr., Robert D. Wachs

Screenplay by David Sheffield, Barry W. Blaustein, story by Eddie Murphy
Music by Nile Rodgers
Cinematography Sol Negrin
Woody Omens
Edited by Malcolm Campbell, George Folsey Jr.

Production company: Eddie Murphy Productions

Distributed by Paramount Pictures

Release date: June 29, 1988

Running time: 117 minutes


DVD: March 9, 1999