The original Beverly Hills Cop movie was one of the most successful movies ever at the time of its release, and it had the potential to give birth to a franchise that was equally as popular and long-lasting. Unfortunately, the second movie didn’t fare as well with audiences or critics and the third film, released in 1994, a whopping seven years after the previous installment, was near-disaster. Despite this, the version of Beverly Hills Cop III we got, in which Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley busts up a counterfeit ring at a Southern California theme park, was far superior to a lot of the ideas that were thrown around by movie executives at the time. Let’s take a look at some alternate Beverly Hills Cop III storylines we almost got, including, yes, one that would have seen the franchise cross over with Crocodile Dundee.
IDEA #1: Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who made the first two Beverly Hills Cop movies, were originally brought to produce this one too in 1991, according to The LA Times. They hired Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne (who wrote 70s classics like Chinatown, The Last Detail, and Shampoo), who pitched a story about Axel Foley dealing with being a celebrity cop. Eddie Murphy liked the idea, but negotiations with Paramount broke down over Simpson and Bruckheimer’s fees and provisions. The duo left the project along with Towne, taking the script with them and getting a million dollar payday anyway.
IDEA #2: Eddie Murphy rejected a story idea that would have seen Axel Foley traveling to London and teaming up with Sean Connery as a Scotland Yard detective.
IDEA #3: The craziest Beverly Hills Cop III idea of all (and one of the craziest movie ideas ever, in general) was pitched by then-Paramount Chairman Brandon Tartikoff, according to The LA Times. Tartikoff wanted to pair Eddie Murphy with Paul Hogan for a third Crocodile Dundee film. Yes, you read that right. Tartikoff had a good head on his shoulders and was responsible for making a lot of classic TV as the head of NBC in the 80s, so it’s surprising that this concept would come from him. It’s the epitome of a coke-fueled idea from a sleazy 80s movie producer (“Crocodile Hills Cop! I can see the poster now!”), but not something you’d expect somebody to pitch in 1991.
Sure, it’s natural to think of Beverly Hills Cop and Crocodile Dundee together. They were both wildly-popular “fish out of water” 80s comedies - very similar movies, but pairing up Axel Foley and Dundee sounds like an iffy proposition, at best. Needless to say, Murphy turned this one down too.
PEOPLE WHO TURNED THE MOVIE DOWN: In addition to the movies original producers, who walked away, actors John Ashton and Ronny Cox, who played Sgt. John Taggart and Lt. Andrew Bogomil, respectively, in the first two movies, also decline to take part in Beverly Hills Cop III. Tony Scott, who directed the second movie, said no to directing this one. Joel Silver, the action movie producer responsibly for 48 Hrs. (with Murphy), Die Hard, and Lethal Weapon, was brought on to replace Simpson and Bruckheimer as producer, but he the studio wanted to rush the movie into production, which he wasn’t willing to do. Paramount execs badly needed a hit, and they expected Beverly Hills Cop III to be a big summer blockbuster. Silver was released from his contract, partly because he refused to rush the movie into production and partly because the studio wouldn’t agree to his fees/contract stipulations.
After all of this turnover amongst the movie’s crew, a series of rejected script ideas, a regime change at the studio, budget problems, and production delays, Beverly Hills Cop III limped into production in 1993. Director John Landis was considered a surprising choice. Landis, who had directed Eddie Murphy in Trading Places and Coming to America, had a falling out with Murphy after America. Murphy publicly disparaged Landis after Coming to America, said he’d never work with him again, and the two didn’t speak for two years until they began planning Cop III in 1992. The resulting film was the least popular in the series but fared far better than a Beverly Hills Cop/Crocodile Dundee crossover probably would have.
Despite the sequel’s failings, it didn’t kill the Beverly Hills Cop franchise, which is still barreling ahead today. Although the third movie is still currently the last BHC installment, a new TV show based around Axel Foley’s son (played by Brandon T. Jackson) is in the works at CBS and should turn out better than Beverly Hills Cop III or any of these rejected Beverly Hills Cop III ideas.