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Peter T Chattaway

Coming to America 2

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Links to our threads on other 21st-century sequels to 1980s movies like Tron Legacy (2010), The Thing (2011) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) -- and one could arguably add Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) to the list, since it was the first Star Wars film to take place after 1983's Return of the Jedi and to feature the principal cast of the original trilogy. And then there is Halloween (2018), which ignored all of the existing sequels and presented itself as a direct sequel to the original 1970s film. Anything else I could add to the list?

Anyway. Back to Coming to America. The sequel is coming August 7, 2020.

I happened to watch the original film for the first time ever less than a year ago, when I noticed that it was on Netflix. Everyone was talking about the box-office success of Black Panther and how it wasn't *entirely* unprecedented for a movie with a mostly-black cast to be a huge box-office hit.

What surprised me, when I looked at the film's box-office stats, was that it actually made more money overseas than it did in North America! That was rare for box-office hits of *any* sort, but especially comedies, in the 1980s. And nowadays, when blockbusters typically make two or three times as much overseas as they do in North America, films with black lead actors continue to struggle to make as much overseas as they do in North America (e.g. Black Panther made $700.1 million in North America and $646.9 million overseas, while Avengers: Infinity War -- which came out only two months later -- made $678.8 million in North America and $1.37 billion overseas; cf. also the Creed movies, which are the only movies in the Rocky series to make less money overseas than in North America, at least going back to 1985's Rocky IV, which is the earliest movie in that franchise that Box Office Mojo has figures for; and then there's the vast majority of Denzel Washington's films...).

But Coming to America? $128.2 million in North America and $160.6 million overseas. In 1988. That's *incredible*. Those are Rocky IV-style numbers. (Rocky IV grossed $127.9 million in North America and $172.6 million overseas in 1985.)

Incidentally, I was very amused to see that Samuel L. Jackson has a bit part in Coming to America as a guy who holds up a diner. This was six years before he starred in Pulp Fiction, a movie that begins with a monologue about how nobody ever robs diners.

(Re: overseas grosses in the 1980s. The ten top-grossing films in North America in 1988 all made over $70 million in North America. Of those, Box Office Mojo does not have foreign figures *at all* for two films, i.e. The Naked Gun and Beetlejuice. The others, with the percentages of their grosses that came from overseas, are Rain Man (51.3%), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (52.6%), Coming to America (55.6%), Big (24.2%), Twins (48.3%), Crocodile Dundee II (54.4%), Die Hard (40.9%) and Cocktail (54.4%). So Coming to America made a bigger percentage of its worldwide gross overseas than *any* other film in the North American top ten.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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