‘Coming to America’ Set a Record That Wasn’t Broken Until Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’

Coming to America is back 33 years later in the comedy sequel Coming 2 America. Those three decades have been good to the original, creator and star Eddie Murphy says. The original film set a record in 1988 that stood until Marvel’s Black Panther came along 30 years later. 

Coming to America stars Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy return
L-R: Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy | Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

Murphy spoke about the legacy of Coming to America at a press conference for the sequel, Coming 2 America. Here’s the landmark the original film achieved, and we’ll have more with the cast of both films before the sequel premieres March 5 on Amazon Prime. 

‘Coming to America’ was bigger than just the U.S.A.

By 1988, Murphy was a movie star. He’d had 48 Hours, Trading Places and two Beverly Hills Cops. Coming to America took him to another level.

Coming 2 America: Shari Headley, Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy in Zamunda
L-R: Shari Headley, Arsenio Hall and Eddie Murphy | Annette Brown/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

RELATED: How ‘Coming to America’ Cast Members Updated Their Characters in ‘Coming 2 America’

“The original Coming to America, the very first one, is the first movie in the history of movies that had an all Black cast that was successful all around the world,” Murphy said. “The very first one ever. There’s just a handful of movies that have had all Black casts that have been successful all around the world. You could count them on one hand and you’ll have fingers left over. Two of those movies are Coming to America and Coming 2 America.”

The reason ‘Coming to America’ movies travel so well

Coming to America begins in the fictional kingdom of Zamunda. Prince Akeem (Murphy) travels to Queens to find a bride. His adventures in New York were accessible to worldwide audiences.

Coming 2 America: Akeem and Semmi
L-R: Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall | Quantrell D. Colbert/Paramount Pictures/Amazon Studios

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The legacy of this movie is that it’s accessible to all audiences. The reason why our movies don’t go around the world is because our story is provocative to us. Around the world they don’t give a sh*t about our stuff. Most of our movies, they shine a light on some social injustice or civil unrest or some sh*t we went through. Around the world, they don’t give a sh*t about that. They just want a basic story. Coming to America is not about any of those things. It’s just about family and love and doing the right thing and tradition. That’s what the movie is about [and] these amazing images of Black kings and queens and princesses.’

Eddie Murphy, Coming 2 America press conference, 2/10/21

Marvel joined their ranks with ‘Black Panther’

In 2018, Marvel’s Black Panther broke records making over $1 billion worldwide. Murphy acknowledged the legacy of Zamunda in Wakanda.

Marvel's Black Panther: Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright
L-R: Lupita Nyong’o, Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright | Marvel

RELATED: Eddie Murphy Revealed All the Characters He Plays in ‘Coming 2 America’

Black Panther did it,” Murphy said. “It’s the second movie that had Black kings and Black [royalty]. The very first one is Coming to America and the third one is Coming 2 America. It’s the only time we’re seeng like this. We’re just some people in the movie, just telling this story about human being stuff that everybody can relate to. The themes are timeless, love and marrying somebody who you really love.”

Murphy added that Coming to America reflects themes from other cultural stories, too.

Fiddler on the Roof has a lot of stuff that’s similar images and similar stuff, similar themes as Coming to America,” Murphy said. “That’s a testament but how come it’s only two or three times that it’s even happened?”