How Eddie Murphy Made Beverly Hills Cop Into A $300 Million Movie

By | July 8, 2022

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LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 5: The movie "Beverly Hills Cop", directed by Martin Brest. Seen here, Eddie Murphy as Det. Axel Foley. Initial theatrical release December 5, 1984.(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

In 1984 “Beverly Hills Cop” cemented Eddie Murphy as a superstar, capable of transforming a mediocre script into a $300 million movie. Prior to “Beverly Hills Cop”, Murphy enjoyed early movie success with “48 hours” and “Trading Places.” However, the fish-out-of-water story of a Detroit cop going to Beverly Hills made him an American icon. Even so, Murphy remained far from producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer’s first choice.

Ironically, it’s hard to imagine the film becoming a massive hit with anyone else at the helm. Murphy’s comedic timing and unparalleled powers of improvisation made “Beverly Hills Cop” a huge success. Here are the behind-the-scenes stories and how Murphy turned it from mess to masterpiece.

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"Before I go, I just want you two to know something, alright? The supercop story... was working. Okay? It was working, and you guys just messed it up. Okay? I'm trying to figure you guys out, but I haven't yet. But it's cool. You f%#k up a perfectly good

A Dubious Concept

Many of the stories surrounding the pre-production of “Beverly Hills Cop” indicate a disaster in the making. Even the very basic plot of the movie became contested. Disney CEO Michael Eisner claimed he came up with the idea when a cop with "an air of superiority and quiet condescension" gave him a ticket as he drove a dilapidated station wagon through Hollywood. Supposedly, that interaction inspired him to buy a new Mercedes and the idea for a movie. Don Simpson disputed that story, asserting it was his idea.

Finding Axel Foley

Despite the film’s conventional setup, it took an astounding 5 five years for the powers that be to find a script they liked. Eventually, a melding of Danillo Bach’s initial idea and Daniel Petrie Jr’s additions satisfied the Paramount producers. The next step was finding the star and their first call went to Mickey Rourke. Unfortunately for them, Rourke strung them along just long enough to collect $400,000 on a holding deal before passing.

Next up? Sylvester Stallone. Apparently, when Rocky received the script in the mail he thought it was a joke and then proceeded to put his quintessential Stallone touches on it. In his version, the movie opened with a massive cold open action sequence akin to “Saving Private Ryan.” He also wanted to end the movie with a game of chicken involving a Ferrari and a freight train. Conflicting stories point to the action star leaving the film over the wrong type of orange juice or the studio realizing his version would cost a fortune.