How Amazon is selling a much-anticipated and long-gestating comedy sequel.
To say there’s a fair amount of pent-up demand for Coming 2 America, the sequel to the 1988 original, a bonafide comedy classic, would be a significant understatement. 30+ years later, Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall return as Akeem and his friend and confidant Semmi, respectively. Akeem, having raised a family over the years, has now ascended to the throne of Zamunda but learned from his dying father (James Earl Jones) that he has a son he never knew back in America. So he and Semmi make their way back to Queens to connect with Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) and, of course, engage in other hijinks.
Craig Brewer takes over directorial duties from John Landis, and the movie also stars Leslie Jones, Tracy Morgan, Kiki Layne, Wesley Snipes and a host of others both new and returning. With a disappointing 52% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon Studios’ campaign has sought to sell it as both familiar and new.
The first teaser poster (by marketing agency BLT Communications) came out in mid-December, simply showing Akeem looking joyfully out the window of his royal limousine with a highway sign pointing to New York seen in the reflection of the window.
In early February the theatrical poster came out, evoking the design of the original but with a lot more characters spread around the layout. In fact it looks more like the poster for an MCU or other super hero movie than a mid-level comedy. Whatever the case, it works by presenting a big-name cast, all apparently having a great time.
A first batch of character posters focusing on Akeem, Semmi, Lisa and King Jaffe.
A second batch offered looks at Akeem and Lisa’s daughters as well as Lisa’s father and Lavelle.
The third and final batch added General Izzy and others to the mix.
The first trailer (14.7m views on YouTube) came out in late December and immediately establishes where we’re at in terms of Akeem’s story. His dying father has informed him he has a son in America and so, despite Semmi’s reluctance, the two are once again headed back to Queens to find the now-adult boy. There are lots of new characters briefly introduced, but the centerpiece, of course, is the return of the barbershop crew as well as others played by Murphy and Hall in various amounts of makeup. It’s glorious.
The second trailer (20.6m views on YouTube), released in early February, goes a little deeper into the story but hits many of the same beats. We see a bit more of how General Izzi wants to take over Zamumda and some of the hijinks that happen once they get Akeem’s son back to the country. It’s the same basic message, just fleshed out a bit.
Online and Social
No stand-alone informational website I could find, but Amazon did create social profiles like this Twitter page for the movie to share promos and other updates.
Advertising and Publicity
The movie going into production was officially announced in early January, with Murphy returning and director Craig Brewer behind the camera, the latter of which got people’s attention in a big way. Casting news – including new and returning actors – were the focus for a while after that.
In October news came that wasn’t wholly surprising given the pandemic situation. Specifically, it was reported Paramount was finalizing a deal to sell the movie to Amazon since a theatrical release date was uncertain at best. That deal was officially sealed in November, with Amazon giving it a spring release date.
It was revealed just a couple weeks ago that Amazon planned to advertise the film during the upcoming Super Bowl. That spot is essentially a cut down version of the second trailer, pulling out some of the bigger jokes and plot points.
The soundtrack, with a new song from Bobby Sessions and Megan Thee Stallion, came out earlier this month.
Morgan, Jones and others from the cast showed up in a reworked version of the Soul Glo commercial from the original.
Amazon Studios scheduled a watch party, sponsored by Pepsi, for Friday 3/5 and encouraged the audience to get in on the action by dressing up and sharing their party lewks and plans online.
Additional promotional partners included
- Rent The Runway, which offered a coupon code tied to the movie.
- The Brooklyn Nets, which promoted the movie in a series of Tweets during a recent game.
- Spotify, which created character-specific playlists to help introduce them to the audience.
- HSTRY Clothing, which created a movie-inspired clothing collection.
- Crown Royal, which offered a new movie-branded package designed by costume designer Ruth E. Carter.
Media and Press
Murphy continued talking about the movie while promoting Dolemite Is My Name through the end of 2019. And Layne commented briefly on it while promoting The Old Guard in mid-2020. Similarly, Jones mentioned it during an interview about other projects in October.
A handful of stills were finally released in late December, just before the trailer came out.
An interview with Fowler was part of EW’s 2021 Movie Preview, with the actor talking about how excited he was to be part of the sequel.
Ruth E. Carter was interviewed about crafting the look of the characters at about the same time she became the first Black costume designer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
How and why the two stars came back for a sequel, something they had previously pledged not to do, became a central focus when Hall appeared on “The Late Show,” Murphy appeared on “The Tonight Show” and both of them on “Kimmel.” Fowler also talked about the movie on “The Tonight Show”
Murphy and his daughter were interviewed about the legacy of the original film and what it was like to bring the sequel to completion all these years later.
I’ll be honest when I first heard the movie was happening i was all
But then as the trailer and other assets were released I started to be all
Until finally I was all