AFI Movie Club: COMING TO AMERICA – American Film Institute
Coming To American Film Still - Eddie Murphy



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.

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Watch Marsha Stephanie Blake announce COMING TO AMERICA:

Movie Trivia about COMING TO AMERICA

DID YOU KNOW? 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.

DID YOU KNOW? 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.

DID YOU KNOW? 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 choreographed for the Los Angeles Lakers and Janet Jackson.

DID YOU KNOW? 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.

DID YOU KNOW? 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.

DID YOU KNOW? 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.

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

DID YOU KNOW? 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.

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The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-In COMING TO AMERICA, Prince Akeem and Semmi have a culture shock when they arrive to New York City. How might today’s technology have affected their acclimation? Would the film has worked as well if it had been made in 2020? What would be different?
-Why was it important to Prince Akeem to find true love instead of following the Zamunda tradition of arranged marriages?
-In what ways is Lisa’s life in Queens similar to Prince Akeem’s in Zamunda? In what ways are they different?
-As the Prince of Zamunda, why was Prince Akeem willing to take a job at McDowell’s where he would mop and take out the trash? Why was Prince Akeem always so positive when completing these tasks?
-What can we learn from Prince Akeem’s outlook toward work and love?
-How would you rate COMING TO AMERICA?

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