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Paramount and Amazon Reach $125 Million Deal to Shift ‘Coming 2 America’ to Streaming

(Image credit: Paramount)

Paramount’s Coming 2 America, the long-awaited sequel to 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy classic Coming to America, will bypass theatrical distribution and debut directly on Amazon Prime Video, starting December 18, Variety reports. 

The entertainment trade said some terms of the deal still need to be worked out. But the pact is reportedly valued at around $125 million. And promotional deals attached to the production with McDonald’s and Crown Royal are said to be shifting over to some kind of Amazon integration. 

The Variety report is unclear as to whether Amazon secured merely North American rights, or if it has rights to stream Coming 2 America in each of its 240 global territories, as it does with Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat sequel, which debuts on the steaming service globally Oct. 23.

The original Coming to America grossed $128.2 million domestically in 1988 dollars, and it pulled in $288.8 million in a worldwide box office that isn’t nearly as developed as what exists today.

Paramount reportedly considered a premiere of Coming 2 America on its sibling SVOD platform, CBS All Access (soon to be Paramount Plus). But Amazon Studios and its chief, former Robert Greenblatt lieutenant Jennifer Salke, are reportedly paying aggressive money to haul in theatrical titles displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to Coming 2 America and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, Amazon recently acquired another Paramount title originally slated for movie theaters, Tom Clancy adaptation Without Remorse, staring Michael B. Jordan. 

Notably, the Walt Disney Company this week signaled that it’s now prioritizing video streaming amid the indefinitely disrupted global theatrical market. 

Disney made what now appears to be a wise decision last month to domestically launch its live-action adaptation of animation hit Mulan as a premium $30 VOD offering to its Disney Plus subscribers. 

The film has only grossed $66.8 million at the international box office since debuting Sept. 8. But various estimates peg the gross from just Mulan’s domestic Labor Day weekend debut on Disney Plus at $33.5 million. In fact, research company 7Park Data went as far to suggest that Mulan pulled in as much as $261 million in its first two weeks on Disney Plus in the U.S. 

Also read: Disney Reorganizes to Focus on DTC Platforms

Regardless of the actual total, which Disney has yet to announce, the studio didn’t have to split revenue with theater chains. There was also the addition of subscribers, and brand prestige, for Disney Plus. 

Conversely, AT&T’s WarnerMedia division opted to forgo direct-to-streaming for Christopher Nolan summer blockbuster Tenet. The action thriller has grossed a strong $323.5 million in worldwide box office, with per-screen IMAX showings overseas breaking records. But scattershot theater openings domestically have allowed for only a $48.3 million North American opening for Tenet. And with COVID-19 cases trending upward in the U.S. once again, there's no timetable for the domestic exhibition industry to return to stability as it has in other regions ... like, notably, China.  

For comparison’s sake, the last time Nolan wrote and directed a non-superhero-themed summer tentpole for Warner Bros., 2010’s Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it grossed $836.8 million worldwide and $292.6 million in North America, prior to lucrative home entertainment and TV release windows. 

As for Coming 2 America, it reunites much of the core cast from the original title, with Murphy reprising his Prince Akeem character who migrated from the fictional African nation of Zamunda to New York City to escape an arranged marriage and search for his own wife. 

In the sequel, Murphy is back in his home country, about to ascend to the throne, with James Earl Jones reprising his role as Akeem’s now ailing father, the king. Upon learning that he has a son back in New York, Murphy returns to Queens, alongside his loyal sidekick, Semmi (actor Arsenio Hall), attempting to line up an heir to his throne, as per the wishes of his dying father.