Axel Foley will be making his long-awaited return to the big screen in about two years. Paramount today set a March 25, 2016, release date for Beverly Hills Cop, the fourth installment of the mega-grossing 1980s movie series that has Eddie Murphy set to reprise his role as the wise-cracking detective. The new film has the pre-summer weekend to itself for now. Jerry Bruckheimer is back as producer, and Brett Ratner is directing the pic, which will see Murphy’s Foley returning to his Detroit roots. Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec, the scribes behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, are writing that script. It looked for a while as if Beverly Hills Cop‘s resurrection was going to be televised. Early last year, CBS ordered a pilot from Shawn Ryan and Murphy that was to follow the adventures of Foley’s cop son, with Barry Sonnenfeld directing and Murphy set to appear in the pilot and possibly recur. But the network surprisingly passed on the project at the eleventh hour.
Fleming Q&As American Cinema-theque Honoree Jerry Bruckheimer On 40 Years Of Hits, And A Paramount Pictures Future
EXCLUSIVE: Tonight, the 27th American Cinematheque Award honors Hollywood’s longest-running and most commercially successful producer in Jerry Bruckheimer. Over the past 40 years, Bruckheimer has been the most consistent generator of films that filled theaters, moved popcorn and displayed more onscreen explosions than anyone else. First with late partner Don Simpson and then as a solo act, Bruckheimer’s films have earned estimated worldwide revenues of $16 billion in ticket sales, video and recording revenues, and he once had 10 TV series on networks in a single season, a record that still stands. Bruckheimer has something to prove as he moves from Disney to Paramount in the wake of the disappointing returns on The Lone Ranger. Bruckheimer doesn’t relish looking back as he starts a new chapter in a storied career that will include more installments of franchises Pirates Of The Caribbean, National Treasure, Bad Boys, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun. But he invited Deadline to his spacious Santa Monica headquarters recently to spend an afternoon reflecting on how far the son of a Detroit suit salesman has come.
DEADLINE: Your long run as Disney’s signature event film producer ends with your return to Paramount, a place where you and late former partner Don Simpson made some of the seminal hits of the 1980s. Disney moved toward a branded supplier program built around Marvel, Star Wars, DreamWorks, Pixar and away from proven producers. That is emblematic of the business now as studio producer deals fall by the wayside. You raised $20 million a couple years ago through Barclays Bank for development, and had a line on over $300 million, positioning you to be in step with hybrid producer/financiers with co-fi coin. Why did you instead opt for a throwback first-look Paramount deal?
BRUCKHEIMER: I like the camaraderie and collaboration of developing at a studio. Brad Grey I’ve worked with in the past and enjoy. I developed Top Gun 2 with Tony Scott, Paramount executives and David Ellison, and had a good experience with them. They are aggressive about material, and how they market, advertise and distribute their films.
DEADLINE: Most producers who can are raising their own money, as studios make fewer films and downgrade traditional first-look producing deals. You had the money in place and no producer has your long track record of hits if you wanted to raise more. Why didn’t you go that route?
BRUCKHEIMER: Because you spend your time finding millions, setting up time-consuming meetings with bankers, accountants and lawyers. It sucks the energy out of you and you are not spending your time making movies. For me, it was like trying on a suit and not liking the fit. I’d rather spend my time sitting in a room with a writer or a director, working out the beats of a story, or sitting with a designer to figure out how to make this set as cool as possible. A lot of people are good at running around raising money, and I’m not saying it’s something that isn’t in my future if I have to do it. I’d just much rather work at the creative end of the business.
DEADLINE: In your first stop at Paramount, you made films like Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop, and you are drafting new versions of each almost 30 years later. Studios all over are rebooting and sequelizing old stuff. Why is it so hard to create new franchises today?
BRUCKHEIMER: It’s always been hard to launch a franchise. You have to hit the mother lode on the first one, then figure out how to create longevity for each of the main characters. That’s not easy. We got very fortunate with Beverly Hills Cop because Eddie was just the greatest new comic that I’d seen. He’d made only a few movies previously and I could see he had the ability to capture the imagination of the audience. 48 Hours and Trading Places made that clear. But they thought we were nuts to have him carry a lead in a movie.
BRUCKHEIMER: Because in both pictures he was a co-star.
DEADLINE: Didn’t Paramount prefer Sylvester Stallone for the Axel Foley role anyway?
BRUCKHEIMER: Originally. Here’s what happened. We went to Paramount and said, we want Eddie for this. They had the script, they loved it, they wanted to make the movie. They also had a pay or play commitment with Stallone, and they didn’t just want to pay him. So they wanted him for this movie. We said, we love Sly, but we created this script for Eddie. Even though Eddie didn’t know that we’d developed it for him. But we said, fine, you sign the checks, we’ll do what you want. We met with Sly and he said, I write my own stuff. We said OK, go ahead with your own thing. And when the project came in it had gotten way too expensive. He had written in car chases and everything. Barry Diller said, wait a minute, we’re not spending that kind of money on this movie. So he turned to us and asked who we would put in this movie if Sly couldn’t do it? We said, Eddie Murphy, but we didn’t say we’d originally given it to the studio for Eddie. Barry said, great, go make the movie! And he gave Sly his script back with all the things he wrote and Sly went off and used that to make Cobra, which was the direction he had taken Beverly Hills Cop. We went off and made it with Eddie. They still thought we were crazy because this was the first time an African-American had carried a studio movie. I think, ever. We were told we were nuts to spend that kind of money on Eddie, alone.
DEADLINE: Take movies like Pacific Rim, World War Z or The Lone Ranger this past summer. Each were franchise plays, but at $200 million or more, the high costs made it like shooting at a narrow moving target and hard to turn profit. The old way was to make films like Beverly Hills Cop for low price and if they build natural momentum, hello sequel.
BRUCKHEIMER: Beverly Hills Cop wasn’t expensive at all. It’s just so hard to make a successful movie to begin with, and to figure out which can be sustained. A lot of movies I’ve done, like The Lone Ranger, could have been franchises. But the audience didn’t brace itself for what might happen next with the characters. That is just how it has always happened. The difference is that now, everything is just a lot more expensive. Back then, Top Gun cost $14 million and Beverly Hills Cop was $8 million.
DEADLINE: Why didn’t The Lone Ranger catch on with audiences?
BRUCKHEIMER: I don’t really know. I can’t definitively tell you why Pirates Of The Caribbean worked so well. Nobody wants to make a picture that doesn’t make its money back, especially us. I loved the movie and enjoyed making it. You make the best movie you can, you put it out and then you find out. They did a good job marketing the movie, so I can’t say anything about that. It’s just one of those films that fell between the cracks. It certainly wasn’t helped by the negative press before the movie even got made. There were a lot of discussions about a lot of things that the audience shouldn’t care about, and maybe that turned them off.
DEADLINE: The average person or a journalist like me might say, $200 million or more is too much to spend on a picture. What doesn’t the lay person understand when they make statements like that?
BRUCKHEIMER: The part that gets me is, the audience only pays between $6 and $10 bucks, and they don’t pay any more when a film costs $200 million. It shouldn’t concern them. All they should care about is, did I love it? Do I want to go see it again? Will I tell my friends to go see it? That’s all that should be important to an audience. The media feeds into the cost of the movie, rather than, is it entertaining? Have the filmmakers used every nickel they spent to best advantage, where I can see it on the screen and it gave me a better experience? That’s what’s important, the moviegoer experience. And it is also important that someone like me looks at movies done by others that are so well done, so exciting, with such big endings that I say, ‘Jeez, how do we compete with that?’ And the way you compete is to be more inventive in finding concepts, actors and directors who’ll give the audience a real thrill ride.
UPDATE: Jerry Bruckheimer And Paramount Ink First-Look Deal; Brett Ratner Attached To Direct ‘Beverly Hills Cop’
UPDATED: Paramount Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer are back in business together, with the free-agent producer and his Bruckheimer Films finalizing a three-year first-look deal with the studio that will begin in April 2014. “I have a lot more freedom than at Disney,” Bruckheimer told me today. Clearly, he’s referring to the fact that he can take projects elsewhere to develop if need be, something he couldn’t do at Disney. He also cited Paramount’s strong marketing and distribution team and said he was impressed with how well they handled the Brad Pitt zombie movie World War Z when the going got rough in the press.
In September, Disney announced it would not renew its first-look with one of the few brand-name producers in town — the one who begat the mega-successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. That decision came as the studio said it would have to write down as much as $190 million from losses tied to The Lone Ranger, the big-budget pic from Bruckheimer that failed to pop at the box office. Bruckheimer’s films have earned a combined $16 billion over the years, with 19 of his movies topping $100 million mark in U.S. box office receipts. His deal with Disney was about the most expensive in the business, with generous overhead, 7-figure producing fees and gross.
Bruckheimer will not have a discretionary fund at Paramount.
Projects he set up at Disney will remain there until they pass on them. One of the projects Bruckheimer will take with him is Shake, a cat-and-mouse thriller about and FBI agent who is bringing in a serial killer when an earthquake happens and the killer gets loose.
The first project under the new deal, however, will be a new Beverly Hills Cop movie — a reboot of one of Bruckheimer and Paramount’s biggest successes together when he produced the original with late partner Don Simpson. Eddie Murphy closed his deal to reprise his role as Detroit cop Axel Foley — this time Foley will be returning to his Detroit roots. It will be the fourth installment of the lucrative franchise. Brett Ratner, who is currently finishing up Hercules for MGM, is attached to direct the film as soon as his duties on the Dwayne Johnson-starrer finishes up. The picture bows in July. The Beverly Hills Cop script is still being worked on.
Another big Bruckheimer-Simpson-Paramount hit in their sights: Bruckheimer as part of his deal will also produce the long-in-the-works Top Gun 2, which is being developed by Skydance Productions with Tom Cruise back in the cockpit to star.
The production deal brings another heavy hitter into the Paramount mix with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Bay, David Ellison and J.J. Abrams already there.
EXCLUSIVE: Though it recently looked like the Beverly Hills Cop saga would continue on television, Paramount Pictures has begun moving fast on another movie. The studio has enlisted Eddie Murphy to reprise his role as Axel Foley, and they’ve set Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec to write that script. That duo has done very well at the studio, with recent script credits that include Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake.
Related: SHOCKER: ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Gets Pass At CBS, Likely To Be Shopped Elsewhere
The series began in 1984, tailor made for Murphy as the tough talking Detroit cop who was an outsider and excoriated by authority, but who was the smartest cop on the block. Martin Brest directed the first one, Tony Scott helmed the second, and the last one was directed by John Landis in 1994, back when Murphy was one of the studio’s biggest stars. The series grossed near $750 million collectively. Paramount adds that to another retro project that originated in the ’80s, a sequel to 1986′s Top Gun, which has been in limbo since the film’s director, Scott, committed suicide. Tom Cruise was ready to star at that point.
We hear the newest installment in the film franchise was fueled by the interest sparked by the Beverly Hills Cop pilot this past season. The project, written by Shawn Ryan and executive produced by Murphy and Ryan, ignited a bidding war before landing at CBS last fall where it went to a pilot starring Brandon T. Jackson as Axel’s son. Murphy reprised his role in a scene-stealing turn that had people talking. It showed that the character and Murphy’s portrayal are still pretty potent.
This has got to be one of the most surprising moves this season: I’ve learned that CBS has passed on the Beverly Hills Cop reboot from Shawn Ryan and Eddie Murphy. It is likely that the project, which had multiple suitors before landing at CBS in a bidding war last fall, will be shopped elsewhere. Beverly Hills Cop originally was produced by Sony TV. After it had already been picked up to pilot at CBS, Paramount – which is looking to enter the TV business — exercised an option to buy into the show, creating an odd pairing between former corporate siblings Paramount and CBS and making odd bedfellows of Les Moonves and Brad Grey. I hear the pilot, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, will likely be shopped to other networks. It stars Brandon T. Jackson as Axel Foley’s son and Murphy reprising his signature role as Axel.
On the heels of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman’s remarks this morning that Paramount will be returning to TV production, Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Brad Grey just announced that the company is joining Sony TV as co-producer on CBS‘ Beverly Hills Cop pilot and potential series, based on the hit Paramount movie franchise. Dauman earlier today teased Paramount’s Beverly Hills Cop involvement, noting that the company plans to “get back, with very little investment, into the television production business.” Sony TV put the project, written by Shawn Ryan and exec produced by Ryan and Eddie Murphy, together and sold it to CBS where it has gone to pilot directed by Barry Sonnenfeld. As part of Sony TV’s rights deal with Paramount, the movie studio had the opportunity to join in, something which it is now doing. (Though the co-production deal is not official yet.)
Paramount used to have one of the largest TV studios, Paramount Network Television, which went to CBS in the 2005 split of Viacom, where it was merged with CBS Prods. Grey has plenty of experience to guide Paramount’s return to TV — he comes from a TV producer background as the head of Brad Grey TV, whose slate has included HBO’s The Sopranos and Real Time With Bill Maher and NBC’s Just Shoot Me!. Here is Grey’s memo:
FROM: Brad Grey
TO: All Staff
I would like to share some exciting news about a new Paramount project.
We have entered into an agreement with Sony Pictures Television to co-finance and co-produce a one hour pilot of “Beverly Hills Cop” for the CBS Television Network. If the pilot is picked up, we will continue to work with Sony TV on the series. As you know, “Beverly Hills Cop” is a highly successful Paramount film franchise which stars Eddie Murphy and was launched in 1984.
Christine Lahti To Co-Star In CBS’ ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ Pilot, Clark Johnson In Amazon’s ‘Alpha House’
Christine Lahti will co-star opposite Brandon T. Jackson in the CBS drama pilot Beverly Hills Cop. The project, written by Shawn Ryan and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, is a continuation of the movie franchise and centers on Axel Foley’s police officer son Aaron (Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Lahti will play Helen, the Captain of the Beverly Hills Police Department. Kevin Pollak, David Denman and Argo‘s Sheila Vand co-star. Lahti has kept a presence on CBS since her Emmy-winning starring turn on Chicago Hope. She has been recurring on Hawaii Five-0 and toplined the network’s 2011 pilot The Doctor.
After making her studio feature debut in the Oscar-nominated Argo, Iranian-American actress Sheila Vand has landed her first series regular role — the female lead opposite Brandon T. Jackson in the CBS drama pilot Beverly Hills Cop. The project, written by Shawn Ryan and directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, is a continuation of the movie franchise and centers on Axel Foley’s police officer son Aaron (Brandon T. Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Vand will play Leila, a Beverly Hills detective who gave up a life of privilege for one of independence. The role was written as Persian, which is appropriate since Iranian-Americans now represent more than 20% of the population of Beverly Hills where a recent Mayor was Iranian-born. Kevin Pollak and David Denman co-star in the Sony TV pilot, with Eddie Murphy set to reprise his role as Axel in a guest starring stint. Murphy, Ryan and Marney Hochman executive produce.
EXCLUSIVE: Men In Black helmer Barry Sonnenfeld has come on board to direct and executive produce CBS’ Beverly Hills Cop pilot from Shawn Ryan, Eddie Murphy and Sony Pictures TV. The hourlong project, a continuation of the movie franchise, centers on Axel Foley’s police officer son Aaron (Brandon T. Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Kevin Pollak and David Denman co-star, with Murphy set to guest star in the pilot. Sonnenfeld is with WME.
The Office‘s David Denman is set to co-star in CBS’ Beverly Hills Cop pilot from Shawn Ryan, Eddie Murphy and Sony Pictures TV. The hourlong project, a continuation of the movie franchise, centers on Axel Foley’s police officer son Aaron (Brandon T. Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Denman will play Brad, a stand-up, extremely likable and socially awkward Beverly Hills detective, formerly a baseball player and a musician. Denman, repped by UTA, the Hofflund Co and attorney James Adams, will next be seen in the Steve Jobs biopic jOBS and M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth.
Kevin Pollak has been cast in CBS’ Beverly Hills Cop pilot, from Shawn Ryan, Eddie Murphy and Sony Pictures TV. The hourlong project, a continuation of the movie franchise, centers around Axel Foley’s police officer son Aaron (Brandon T. Jackson), who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. Pollak, repped by Buchwald/Fortitude and Evolution, will play Rodney Daloof, the irritating and incredibly risk-adverse in-house attorney for the Beverly Hills Police Department, a stickler for rules and a loud mouth. Like Jackson and Murphy, who will guest star in the pilot, Pollak comes from a standup background.
CBS has given the long-rumored pilot order to Beverly Hills Cop. The network also has ordered to pilot drama Backstrom, from Bones creator/executive producer Hart Hanson, and comedy Friends With Better Lives, from writer Dana Klein and producer Aaron Kaplan.
Beverly Hills Cop, which had a pilot production commitment and had already cast Brandon T. Jackson as the lead, is a continuation of the movie franchise centered around Axel Foley’s police officer son, played by Jackson, who takes down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. The films’ star Eddie Murphy is set to appear in the pilot and will executive produce with Shawn Ryan, who wrote the script, as well as Ryan’s producing partner Marney Hochman.
CBS‘ Beverly Hills Cop reboot has gotten another step closer to a formal greenlight, with actor-comedian Brandon T. Jackson closing a deal for the lead. The films’ star Eddie Murphy and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan executive produce the Sony TV-produced project, which already has a pilot production commitment. Its pilot order is considered a formality once the script written by Ryan is delivered.
Sherlock Holmes, meet Axel Foley. In a very competitive situation, CBS, which has new Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary coming this fall, has landed Beverly Hills Cop, a series offshoot from the blockbuster movie franchise. The films’ star Eddie Murphy and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan executive produce the Sony TV-produced project, which has received a pilot production commitment from CBS.
Ryan will serve as showrunner on the potential series, a sequel to the three movies that chronicled the exploits of wise-cracking Detroit detective Axel Foley (Murphy) in Los Angeles. The proposed series has a similar fish-out-of-water setup and centers on Axel Foley’s blue-collar police officer son, Aaron, who helps take down the criminal elements of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills while trying to escape the shadow of his larger-than-life father. Murphy will reprise his role as Axel in the pilot and may recur if the pilot goes to series. Ryan will write the script and executive produce with his producing partner at MiddKid Prods. Marney Hochman.
Murphy had been trying to get a Beverly Hills Cop series about Axel’s son off the ground for about a year, after plans for a fourth movie were scrapped. He took the premise to his agency WME, which paired him with fellow client Ryan. Because …
The next generation Beverly Hills Cop — that is a hot hourlong pitch from Beverly Hills Cop star Eddie Murphy and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan, which is making the rounds right now. I’ve learned that the project is envisioned as a sequel to the hit movie franchise which chronicled the exploits of wise-cracking Detroit detective Axel Foley (Murphy) in Los Angeles. The proposed series has a similar fish-out-of-water setup and centers on Foley’s son who moves to Beverly Hills to escape the shadow of his legendary dad. Murphy is set to reprise his role as Axel in occasional recurring guest appearances. It is a premise Murphy had been trying to get off the ground for about a year.
ABC and Fox heard the pitch today, with NBC and CBS slated to take the meeting with Murphy and Ryan tomorrow. All four networks are expected to make a play for the project, described as a light procedural. Sony Pictures TV, where Ryan is under an overall deal, is producing. (The teaming of Murphy and Ryan was first reported by Vulture.) Sony TV’s involvement is somewhat surprising given the fact that the movie franchise was produced by Paramount Pictures, which, though not a direct corporate sibling to CBS TV Studios anymore, still has an affiliation with the the TV studio and the eye network via their Viacom lineage. As a character-driven procedural with comedic elements with a pre-sold title, Beverly …