It has been over 26 years since Eddie Murphy graced the silver screen as Axel Foley, his hero cop from the Beverly Hills Cop franchise. While the first two movies in the franchise were bonafide hits, the third movie, aptly titled Beverly Hills Cop III, fell flat. The movie only grossed a worldwide total of $119 million on a budget of $70 million, which for the time was quite a huge budget. But even with the third movie’s poor showing, a Beverly Hills Cop 4 was in the works. So, after all this time, after all the starts and stops of number 4, 2019 saw a lot of movement in finally bringing Murphy’s Foley back for the fourth time. So, where are we now with this?
THE BRIEF HISTORY OF BEVERLY HILLS COP
We will be as brief as possible here but with the franchise beginning in 1984 and ending in 1994, some of you may not have even been born or (gasp!) may not even really know the true genius of Eddie Murphy.
Eddie Murphy was at the end of his Saturday Night Live run when the first Beverly Hills Cop movie premiered. He was well on his way to becoming a megastar as Saturday Night Live gave way to Murphy’s first feature, 48 Hrs. He followed that with Trading Places, another huge hit for the rising comedian, and then came Beverly Hills Cop. The story was about a Detroit cop (Murphy) who ends up in Beverly Hills following the trail of a killer who murdered his childhood friend. Once in Beverly Hills, Murphy forces himself into the investigation, using two unwillingly detectives (Judge Reinhold and John Ashton) to help him root out the killer. Foley’s unorthodox ways land him in hot water time and again, but he finally begins to win over the two detectives, eventually bringing the killer to justice. The movie was an immediate hit, calling for more Foley.
Eddie Murphy would follow-up the success of the first movie with a second three years later. It was a familiar story, bringing back all the characters from the first as Foley returns to Beverly Hills to investigate the near-fatal shooting of Chief Bogomil (Ronny Cox), whom Foley finally won over in the first movie. He teams up again with Reinhold and Ashton and police hijinks ensue.
A third Beverly Hills Cop came seven years after the second and it was a disaster from beginning to end. It had multiple scripts, most taking Foley overseas to London where he would deal with Scotland Yard and more kidnapping or killing. The final script was written by Die Hard scribe Steven E. de Souza and (surprise) was being touted as Die Hard in a theme park.
The film didn’t quite make those lofty goals. In fact, Murphy himself pretty much told Rolling Stone there was no reason for a third movie. “There’s no reason to do it. I don’t need the money and it’s not gonna break any new ground. How often can you have Axel Foley talk fast and get into a place he doesn’t belong? But these motherfuckers are developing scripts for it. They’re in pre-production. The only reason to do a Cop III is to beat the bank, and Paramount ain’t gonna write me no check as big as I want to do something like that. In fact, if I do a Cop III, you can safely say, ‘Ooh, he must have got a lot of money!'” Of the over $70 million spent on making the film, $15 million was in a check to Murphy.
A FOURTH AXEL FOLEY ADVENTURE
Let’s be clear on this. Eddie Murphy still doesn’t need the money he will make for eventually starring in a fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie. He has turned down plenty of big paydays in the past and probably will in the near future, so what could possibly be bringing him back to a character that helped make him a superstar? Nostalgia, possibly.
The idea of a fourth movie has been around for decades. Eddie Murphy Productions, now defunct, was developing a fourth film back in the late ‘90s. Then Paramount took it on with Lorenzo di Bonaventura attached. The idea sat for some time until screenwriters Derek Haas & Michael Brandt developed a script that saw Reinhold’s Billy Rosewood getting killed, bringing Axel Foley back into action. That script was close to getting made but sat long enough that another director, Brett Ratner, was brought on board and nixed the idea of killing off fan-favorite Rosewood. It was back to square one.
Square one consisted of a new idea and a new script. But things on that front sat way too long and Ratner also had to move along. Obviously, during the early to mid-2000s, Murphy wasn’t in any hurry to make a fourth film. In fact, Murphy pretty much disappeared from Hollywood.
Let’s fast forward to 2019. Eddie Murphy is slowly making a comeback and hit it out of the park with his Netflix movie Dolemite is My Name. It was around this time that Murphy also announced that after 35 years he’d be returning to his roots on Saturday Night Live for their 2019 Christmas show. Another big hit for the comedian. Then the announcements kept coming. There would be a Coming 2 America, a return to stand-up, and a return to Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop 4.
What is crazy about his Beverly Hills 4 announcement is that Murphy ALMOST revived Foley earlier in the decade. He was set to star in the pilot for a Beverly Hills Cop TV series that was to star Brandon T. Jackson (Tropic Thunder, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief). The pilot was shot and screened for CBS executives, but they eventually passed. Murphy told Indiewire why. “The reason that didn’t get picked up was because [the studio] thought that I was going to be in this show, because [the lead] was my son: ‘And you’re going to pop in every now and then.’ I was like, ‘I ain’t popping in shit.’ ‘Well, we ain’t making this TV show.’ I was in the pilot, but they wanted me to be there every week.”
Not much is known about where Axel Foley will end up in Beverly Hills Cop 4 (we are guessing Beverly Hills?), nor who will be coming back from the originals (what is Bronson Pinchot’s Serge doing?). What we do know is that Ratner’s directing duties have been passed along to Bad Boys for Life directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah and they excited as ever to be making the film. They gave a quick update to Digital Spy on the progress being made. “We’re still involved in that project, and there’s a screenwriter now on it that’s going to try to write a first draft or a first treatment at least with the story.”
Eddie Murphy himself also confirmed to Collider that the fourth film is coming, “Yeah that’s what we’re doing after Coming to America 2. We’re doing Beverly Hills Cop and then the plan is to get back on stage and do standup. That’s what I’ll be doing mostly is standup. These movies and Saturday Night Live it’s kind of like…I’m looking at it as a bookend. If I decided I wanted to stay on the couch forever, I ended it on a funny note.” The Beverly Hills Cop portion of his interview can be seen below.
As far as the rest of the Beverly Hills Cop 4 news, there isn’t any, other than it has moved over to Netflix. Chances are fans will not see Foley until at least 2022. With all this good news about Murphy returning to familiar characters as well as stand-up, it was also announced that there is a strong possibility that he will join Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Triplets, a sequel to Schwarzenegger and DeVito’s 1988 hit Twins. Heck, the more Eddie Murphy the better.