Movie Club Weekly – American Film Institute


November 23, 2020

COMING TO AMERICA

(1988)

In COMING TO AMERICA, the king of comedy in the 1980s – Eddie Murphy – became the Prince of Zamunda looking for love in Queens, NY. AFI Honorary Degree recipient James Earl Jones also stars as Prince Akeem’s father – King Jaffe Joffer.

Did you know?

FROM THE AFI ARCHIVE

Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall play four different characters each in COMING TO AMERICA. Both actors had to go through three to four hours of makeup to transform into each of their various characters.

Actress Shari Headley beat out more than 1,000 other actresses to make her feature film acting debut as Lisa McDowell in COMING TO AMERICA.

At just 18 years old, Paula Abdul choreographed the dance number for the first wedding sequence at the beginning of COMING TO AMERICA. When she came on to the film, Abdul had already choregraphed for the Los Angeles Lakers and for Janet Jackson.

Starring as Zamundan royalty in COMING TO AMERICA, James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair were later paired together again as King and Queen for another iconic cinematic adventure – in Disney’s THE LION KING, for which they voiced Mufasa and Sarabi.

Eddie Murphy’s adversaries in TRADING PLACES make a cameo in COMING TO AMERICA; Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy reprise their roles as fallen millionaire brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke, in a scene that finds them panhandling on a New York City street.

The famous McDowell’s restaurant from COMING TO AMERICA was really a Wendy’s located on Queen’s Boulevard in New York City. The restaurant has since been demolished.

COMING TO AMERICA was nominated for two Academy Awards® – Best Makeup and Best Costume Design.

There was a pilot episode filmed for a COMING TO AMERICA sitcom, in which the brother of Prince Akeem comes to America for college – but spends all of his allowance and is forced to get a job at a diner owned by his landlord. The show was not picked up and never made it past the pilot stage.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits. Engage with your family, friends and others like you who love the movies. Check out the AFI Movie Club Discussion Questions for this movie and post your responses in the comment section!

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