Coming to America (1988) Poster


Jump to: Cameo (1) | Director Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (2)
The "McDowell's" restaurant was actually a Wendy's on Queens Blvd. that was scheduled to be closed for a complete renovation. Although the production had approval from McDonald's corporate headquarters, they apparently didn't pass the word down to their local outlets. On the day the "McDowell's" sign was erected, the manager of the McDonald's 1/2 mile further up the road arrived with his lawyer and proceeded to take photographs while telling the set dressing crew they were going to be sued for everything they were worth.
When King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) meets Lisa's father in the restaurant, he warns him to keep his presence secret from Akeem. As King Joffer leaves the restaurant, he says, "Do not alert him to my presence. I'll deal with him myself," similar to lines Jones delivered as Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi (1983).
Most of the dance that's performed by the royal dancers before presenting Prince Akeem's queen-to-be is a high-tempo rendition of the dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller (1983) (also directed by John Landis).
All characters in the barber shop (including the Caucasians) are played by Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, Clint Smith, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
This film marks the first time Eddie Murphy played multiple characters the same film. Something which has gone on to be a trademark of his.
The bums that receive the money from Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) drops are the "Duke Brothers" (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) from Trading Places (1983) (also directed by John Landis). In that movie, Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy) was responsible for The Dukes losing their fortune.
Cuba Gooding Jr., an Oscar winner, and Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Emmy/SAG Award nominee, made their first on-screen appearances in this film.
The barbers call Akeem "Kunta Kinte", a reference to Roots (1977). John Amos, who plays Cleo McDowell (Lisa's father), played the adult Kunta Kinte in Roots (1977). Madge Sinclair (Queen Aoleon), played Kunta Kinte's wife and James Earl Jones (King Jaffe Joffer) played Alex Haley Jr. in Roots: The Next Generations (1979).
In the credits, the fictitious Zamundun Film Commission is thanked.
The name of the fictional African country the main characters are from is called "Zamunda". This name was taken from a Richard Pryor routine where he referred to a fictional African tribe of the same name.
Director John Landis and Eddie Murphy did not get along and Murphy vowed to never work with Landis again. However, the two later reconciled and Eddie personally asked John to direct Beverly Hills Cop 3.
When King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) visits New York to bring Akeem back home, he wears a lion skin sash. Years later Jones would portray the voice of the lion king Mufasa in Disney's The Lion King (1994). Madge Sinclair (Queen Aoleon) would also star alongside Jones in The Lion King as Mufasa's wife, the lioness queen Serabi.
According to John Landis, it was his idea to have Eddie Murphy wear makeup to play a Jewish man as a sort of payback for Jewish comedians wearing blackface in the early 1900's.
Sidney Poitier was originally considered for the role of King Jaffe Joffer.
A television pilot of a weekly sitcom version of the film was produced for CBS following this film's successful release. The series starred Tommy Davidson as Prince Tariq, and Paul Bates reprised his role as Oha. The pilot went unsold, but was televised on July 4, 1989 as an episode of CBS Summer Playhouse (1987).
Vanessa Williams was originally considered for the role of Lisa McDowell.
Airport scenes in Into the Night (1985) and Coming to America (1988) have a call over the PA system for a "Mr. Frank Oznowicz" to pick up the white courtesy phone. This is Frank Oz's real name.
Eddie Murphy was ordered by a court to give 19% of his earnings to co-writer Art Buchwald because Murphy did not give Buchwald credit for developing the story with him.
Akeem's apartment building is supposed to be in Queens, but it's actually located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at S. 5th Street and Hooper.
When arriving to Queens in the taxi cab the cab driver is driving down the wrong way on a one way street. All the cars are facing the other direction.
The predatory woman in the bar was played by Arsenio Hall.
During the McDowell party, they show a painting on the wall of a woman. This is a spoof on Manet's "A Bar at the Folies-Bergere".
The IND Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station in Brooklyn was used for the scenes at Sutphin Blvd.
Cuba Gooding Jr. shot a scene in which his character (Boy Getting Haircut) tells Clarence that he does not have money to pay for his haircut. Clarence responds by cutting a big chunk out of the boy's hair. But to Gooding's disappointment, the scene was deleted.
The working title of this film was "The Quest".
LOGO GIMMICK: After the stars circle around the Paramount mountain and "Paramount" and "A Gulf+Western Company" appear, the sky becomes sunnier (pink to yellow) and the camera zooms in over the mountain summit. We then see a valley/terrain and the opening credits begin.
When Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) goes to sit with the King and Queen at the breakfast table, the King is surprised to find out that Akeem had grown a mustache. In Beverly Hills Cop (1984), when Axel (also played by Murphy) visits Jenny Summers at the art gallery where she works, she is just as surprised to find out that he grew a mustache.
A scene featured in this movie's theatrical trailer but was cut from the final film shows Cleo McDowell, Akeem, and Semmi walking into Cleo's office where he asks them if either of them have had any fast food work experience, to which Semmi quizzically responds "Certainly not!". Akeem then proceeds to lightly nudge Semmi and then responds to Cleo telling him that this is their first job in the United States.
Arsenio Hall voiced the character Winston Zeddemore on 'The Real Ghostbusters (1986)(TV)', a role originally written in the film for Eddie Murphy.
Associate Producer and First Assistant Director David Sosna appeared as 'Cartier Delivery Man.'
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The McDowell's home address is 2432 Derby Avenue, Jamaica Estates. Cleo gives the King his home address on the phone when he calls the King to let him know Akeem is at the house.


Michael Tadross:  the Unit Production Manager as Taxi Driver

Director Cameo 

Tobe Hooper:  to the right of Arsenio Hall (Reverend Brown) and Shari Headley, listening to Brown's non-stop preaching during the McDowell party.

Director Trademark 

John Landis:  [look to camera]  When Patricia tells Daryl he needs to take off his wet clothes after he tells her that Lisa dumped him, he looks directly into the camera. Also, at the Mcdowells house and Leo's daughter says "Why does she always get the good ones?", the dog does the same thing.
John Landis:  [SYNW]  on a movie poster in the subway station (the movie claims to star Jamie Lee Curtis, who appeared in Landis' Trading Places (1983)). Another poster is visible in Ophelia's apartment.

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