By Dave McNary
LOS ANGELES (Variety) – In today’s film news roundup, “ 2” gets a director, Quincy Jones and James Blum get an honor and production begins on the Julia Louis-Dreyfus-Will Ferrell’s comedy-drama “Downhill.”
Paramount Pictures has hired “Hustle & Flow” helmer Craig Brewer to direct its sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming to America.” Murphy is expected to return as the star.
The project has been in the works for several years with Jonathan Levine previously attached to direct. The California Film Commission awarded Paramount a $13 million tax credit last April for “Coming to America 2” but that was conditioned on production launching within 180 days.
Kenya Barris has been attached since 2017 to rewrite a script by original “Coming to America” writers Barry Blaustein and David Sheffield. Murphy is producing with Kevin Misher.
The original movie was directed by John Landis, with Murphy playing a charming African prince who traveled to New York City to escape an arranged marriage. Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley, and John Amos co-starred in the “Coming to America,” which was a major hit, grossing nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office.
Brewer and Murphy worked together recently on “Dolemite Is My Name” for Netflix in a story about comedian Rudy Ray Moore. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.
The African American Film Critics Association have selected Quincy Jones and filmmaker Jason Blum as the recipients of its career achievement awards.
“Quincy Jones is a cultural icon,” AAFCA co-founder Shawn Edwards said. “For nearly 70 years, he has helped shape pop culture as a music composer and producer as well as a film/TV composer and producer. His creative influence is unparalleled. He has molded the arts, film and music with a force that we may never witness again in our lifetime and given back all along the way.”
AAFCA Co-founder and CEO Gil Robertson said, “Jason Blum is a visionary creatively and in business. Through Blumhouse, he has rebirthed the horror genre, favoring both horror and specialty films like ‘BlacKkKlansman’ that inclusively reflect or make us think about the world today.
Jones and Blum will be honored at the 10th Annual AAFCA Awards, alongside AAFCA Best Picture winner “Black Panther” on Feb. 6 at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood.
Fox Searchlight Pictures has launched production in Austria on “Downhill,” the comedy-drama starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell with Nat Faxon and Jim Rash directing.
The film is an adaptation of the 2014 Swedish film “Force Majeure,” centered on a family barely escaping an avalanche during a ski vacation in the Alps — throwing the family members into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate life, and how they truly feel about each other.
Miranda Otto, Zach Woods, Zoë Chao, Julian Grey, Ammon Jacob Ford and Kristofer Hivju also star. Grey and Ford are portraying the fraternal twins whose parents are Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus’ characters.
The film’s producers are Louis-Dreyfus, Likely Story’s Anthony Bregman and Stefanie Azpiazu with Ruben Östlund and Erik Hemmendorff serving as executive producers. Faxon, Rash and Alexander Payne won an Oscar for adapted screenplay for Searchlight’s “The Descendants.”
“‘Downhill’ is a tale of bad judgement and moral weakness, so how fitting that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell embody those values,” Bregman said. “Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, of course, are more than qualified to capture the fallout.”