Eddie Murphy Is Rebooting The Pink Panther

Eddie Murphy will star in a new Pink Panther movie that combines live-action with animation.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

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It looks like You People and Beverly Hills Cop star Eddie Murphy is set to be the next Inspector Clouseau in Pink Panther, an upcoming reboot of the classic comedy franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, MGM the movie will be a hybrid live-action/CG film. It will reportedly combine both the live-action adventures of the bumbling professor and the animated adventures of the famous Pink Panther cartoon character, which originated in the first film’s opening credits. 

The original 1963 film The Pink Panther, starred David Niven as a jewel thief called “The Phantom” who is attempting to steal a famous jewel called “The Pink Panther.” His foil was the incompetent Inspector Jaques Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers — a character that was so popular that he became the focus of all the future movies. Inspector Clouseau would later be played by Only Murders In The Building star Steve Martin in the 2006 reboot and its 2009 sequel, making Eddie Murphy the third actor who will play the character.

Though it originated from the title sequence of the long-running film series, the animated Pink Panther never had anything to do with the events of the series. Rather, he appeared in a series of 124 animated shorts that appeared in front of unrelated feature films from 1964 through 1980. Later, an animated series premiered in 1994, producing 60 episodes across two seasons. 

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The Eddie Murphy Pink Panther film will be the first time the animated panther and the live-action Inspector Clouseau have had anything to do with each other. All previous Pink Panther films involved real-life situations (albeit handled in an over-the-top, cartoonish way by the bumbling inspector). So, although the characters have been forever linked, combining them will be a major departure for the film series.

However, Eddie Murphy is no stranger to animated films, so his onscreen presence might help sell the unexpected change in direction for the film series. His performances as Mushu in Mulan and Donkey in Shrek are iconic in their own right, so Murphy appearing alongside an animated Pink Panther won’t seem quite so out of space as it would for the character’s previous actors.

Of course, this all leads to the question of whether anyone actually wants a live-action/animated Pink Panther movie. The popularity of the animated character has very little to do with the popularity of the adventures of Inspector Clouseau, and the animated Pink Panther’s hijinks have nothing to do with mysteries or investigations. There’s a chance that the combination of the two worlds will completely flop, even with a star like Eddie Murphy in the film.

On the other hand, the combination of cartoon characters and detectives has worked in the past. The plot of the iconic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? centered around a private detective solving a case surrounding its titular animated character — a role that Eddie Murphy ironically turned down. If Pink Panther manages to capitalize on what made Who Framed Roger Rabbit work, then the film could very well end up worth your while.