Paramount had high hopes for “Beverly Hills Cop” going into 1984’s holiday season, but the buzz was primarily focused on ambitious sci-fi movies like “Dune,” “2010” and “Starman.” There was also Francis Ford Coppola’s pricey gangland epic “The Cotton Club” and another cop comedy in the Clint Eastwood-Burt Reynolds vehicle “City Heat.” Eddie would bury them all.
According to Nick De Semlyen’s immensely entertaining “Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the ’80s Changed Hollywood Forever,” the studio was so excited by the euphoric response to an early test screening that they pumped an extra $2 million into the advertising budget, went wide on over 1,500 screens and opened the movie two days early on a Wednesday (a move typically reserved for event films). Paramount got a jump on the December competition, and, by Christmas, “Beverly Hills Cop” was the only wide-release movie anyone was talking about.
In the view of the film’s co-screenwriter, Daniel Petrie Jr., the film’s success hinged not just on Murphy’s high-wattage appeal, but in its subversion of cop movie cliches.
“In most films the cop wakes up alone in a sh***y apartment, has a cup of horrible coffee, then gets served divorce papers by his wife. But in this one you can see the enjoyment pouring out of Eddie all the time. Even though he’s at odds with all the people around him, he charms them all.”