Murphy again plays Detroit cop Axel Foley, who once again returns to Beverly Hills, California to stop a gang of counterfeiters who are responsible for the death of his boss. Foley teams up with his friend, Beverly Hills detective Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), and his investigation leads him to an amusement park known as Wonder World. The film features a number of cameo appearances by well-known film personalities including Robert B. Sherman, Arthur Hiller, John Singleton, Joe Dante, special effects legend Ray Harryhausen, and George Lucas as a ride patron.
Beverly Hills Cop III was released on May 25, 1994 and grossed $42 million in the United States, and over $77 million in the foreign box office. The film was considered by critics and Murphy himself as the weakest film in the series.
One night in Detroit, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) plans an invasion at a nearby local chop shop and in turn, cancels the SWAT, enraging his boss Inspector G. Douglas Todd (Gil Hill). Meanwhile at the chop shop, the workers there are killed by a well dressed man after they hijack a cart full of drugs. Just as they are about to leave, Foley arrives with his men and a gunfight ensues. They find themselves outnumbered, until Todd arrives. Todd manages to gun down a gunman defending the entrance, but is then fatally shot by the man, who escapes. Foley pulls Todd into cover, where he tells the Detective to go get his killer, before he dies. Angered, Foley steals an unfinished sports car and chases down the man. He kills the man's henchman, but he gets away when he is intercepted by Agent Steve Fulbright, who informs him that he must not apprehend the killer at this time for their investigation on him.
After Todd's funeral, Axel learns that the killer's vehicle was rented using a credit card reported stolen from a man on vacation at Wonder World, a theme park in Beverly Hills, California. Axel arrives in Beverly Hills and reunites with his friend Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold), who has been promoted to "Deputy Director of Operations for Joint Systems Interdepartmental Operational Command" (DDO-JSIOC). Axel meets Billy's new partner, Jon Flint (Héctor Elizondo), who claims that he has heard stories about him from John Taggart (John Ashton). Billy explains that Taggart is now retired and living in Phoenix. Axel asks Flint to call his friend Ellis DeWald (Timothy Carhart), the head of park security to let him know that he's coming to the park. Axel investigates Wonder World, which is owned by "Uncle" Dave Thorton (Alan Young). Axel meets and befriends Janice Perkins (Theresa Randle) whilst investigating. He is spotted by security and shot at. The guards attack him, but he retreats to the Spider ferris wheel ride. The guards accidentally jam the ride, placing two little kids' lives in danger. Axel makes a very bold attempt to rescue them and is successful. He is captured by the guards and taken to Orrin Sanderson (John Saxon). The surveillance footage is edited to make Sanderson believe that no one attacked Foley and that he did the act by himself. DeWald is called in, whom Axel immediately recognises as Todd's killer. Rosewood and Flint refuse to believe that DeWald is a killer because he works closely with the LAPD and is a close friend of Flint's. DeWald runs a counterfeiting ring that uses Wonder World as a front and was at the chop shop in Detroit to meet with associates to purchase blank printing paper used for American currency.
Uncle Dave is shot by DeWald and Axel is framed for his shooting. With the help of Rosewood and Flint, Axel sets out to prove his innocence by storming the park. The resulting shootout kills DeWald, Sanderson (John Saxon) and their henchmen. Uncle Dave makes a full recovery and he thanks Axel for his assistance by creating a new character for Wonder World in his honor, Axel Fox.
- Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley
- Timothy Carhart as Ellis DeWald
- Judge Reinhold as Detective Seargent Billy Rosewood
- Héctor Elizondo as Detective Jon Flint
- Theresa Randle as Janice Perkins
- Bronson Pinchot as Serge
- Alan Young as "Uncle" Dave Thornton
- Gil Hill as Inspector G. Douglas Todd
- Jon Tenney as Detective Levine
- Joey Travolta as Giolito
- Gregory McKinney as Kimbrough
- John Saxon as Orrin Sanderson
- Disney composers Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, who wrote the Wonder World song for the film, both filmed cameos. Robert was among the old men discussing the murder at the bar, but Richard's cameo as the grand marshal of the Wonder World parade was cut out.
During the script's early drafts, the film's plot concerned Foley, Rosewood, and Taggart (John Ashton) going to London to rescue Captain Bogomil (Ronny Cox) who was being held hostage by terrorists during an International Police Convention. However, numerous problems such as scripting issues and budgeting caused pre-production to drag out to the point where both John Aston and Ronny Cox had to drop out due to obligations to other pending film projects. Ashton's part was re-written as John Flint (Héctor Elizondo) and dialogue was inserted to explain that Taggart had retired and moved to Phoenix. Cox's absence is never addressed in this film, nor is he mentioned at any point. Both Ashton and Cox have subtle cameos in this film in the form of a picture on Rosewood's desk of Foley, Taggart, Rosewood, and Bogomil on a fishing trip. This is the same picture which also appeared in Beverly Hills Cop II on Bogomil's and Foley's desks. In an interview in 2012, Ronny Cox said, "They wanted me to be in Beverly Hills Cop III, but...I read the script."
Among the rejected ideas for Beverly Hills Cop III included a Robert Towne screenplay idea (one in which Axel Foley has to deal with his celebrity cop status), a scenario teaming Eddie Murphy with Sean Connery as a Scotland Yard detective, and another Axel-in-London idea where his Scotland Yard counterpart would have been played by John Cleese. The last story would have involved British gangsters loosely based on the real-life Kray brothers, who were captured in Detroit and transported to London by Paul Reiser's Jeffrey, and Axel would have gone overseas after the gangster's henchmen broke him out of custody and murdered Jeffrey. This concept was scrapped because producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer decided it was too close to the storyline of the Michael Douglas' 1989 film Black Rain.
When writer Steven E. de Souza was brought in, he originally wrote the story as more "Die Hard in a theme park". He was told that each of the rides he had designed would cost about $10 million to build and the whole film would cost about $70 million. When box office results for The Distinguished Gentleman came in, Paramount ordered the budget to be cut to $55 million. Paramount had earlier told Simpson and Bruckheimer that they would only outlay $25 million for a proposed version to be set in New York City, one of the main reasons that the producing team parted ways with the studio. Joel Silver was set to take over producing duties from Simpson and Bruckheimer; however, negotiations on a large budget resulted in production delays leading to Silver quitting production. It was at this time that producers Mace Neufeld and Robert Rehme took on the project. Consequently, the film became more about the investigation and less about the action.
Production was temporarily shut down to allow the Paramount top brass the chance to get to grips with the film's spiraling budget. Originally estimated at $55 million, it was soon in excess of $70 million. Of that budget, $15 million was Eddie Murphy's paycheck.
The theme park featured in the film is California's Great America. However, some modifications were made to the Columbia Carousel and Vortex roller coaster. The park is in Santa Clara, California and not Encino, California as portrayed in the film. Most of the Sky Whirl stunts were filmed in a studio. In this scene, George Lucas has a small part as the man Axel cuts in front of to get on the ride. The tunnels that supposedly ran under the park are a myth as well. Many of the rides seen in the film, including Triple Play and the Sky Whirl, have since been removed. Also, the carousel at the back of the park (a single story one, not the Columbia Carousel) was altered. The single story one was removed for Drop Tower. The ride featured in the rescue scene at the park was Triple Wheel (formerly known as Sky Whirl). Since the film was made, the ride has been demolished and scrapped.
The Alien Attack ride featured in the Wonder World theme park was in fact the Earthquake: The Big One portion of the famous back lot tram tour at Universal Studios Hollywood in California. The "aliens" featured in the ride are suited actors (and not animatronic as suggested in the film) which closely resembled the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica.
Director John Landis hired the Sherman Brothers to write the "Wonderworld Song" which appears throughout the film's second half. The song is a comedic take on their own signature song, "It's a Small World".
Barbet Schroeder made a short appearance as a Porsche driver. Robert B. Sherman also makes a cameo in the film. In the film, he sits next to Arthur Hiller and Ray Harryhausen in a bar when they hear that "Uncle Dave" has been shot, a character played by Alan Young and modeled loosely after Walt Disney, the Sherman Brothers' mentor. Richard Sherman was filmed in a cameo as a band leader, but it was cut from the film's final version.
A soundtrack containing mostly R&B music was released on May 10, 1994 by MCA Records. It peaked at 158 on the Billboard 200 and 66 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. While Harold Faltermeyer did not return to score this film, his co-producer from the previous franchise entries, Keith Forsey, did produce and co-write a new song entitled "Keep The Peace", performed by INXS. However, Rodgers covered Faltermeyer's Axel F in a Breakbeat Hardcore version.
This is the only film in the series not to feature a song performed by The Pointer Sisters. Beverly Hills Cop had their song "Neutron Dance", while Beverly Hills Cop II had their song "Be There." Although "Neutron Dance" can be heard in the film's trailer.
The film was criticized for numerous reasons. For one, fans of the series missed John Ashton (who portrayed John Taggart), Ronny Cox (Andrew Bogomil) and Paul Reiser (Jeffrey Friedman), who did not reprise their roles. Secondly, original producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer were not involved in the production as they were previously. Many critics felt the film was a generic, formulaic action-comedy film. Critics[who?] also felt Eddie Murphy gave a somewhat routine performance as Axel Foley. In an interview in 1994, Eddie Murphy said that Beverly Hills Cop III is "different from the trilogy's first installment because Axel is more mature and no longer the wisecracking rookie cop." The character is mainly comedic, but Eddie Murphy saw the potential with the character and wanted to have a more serious action hero in the third film. The movie, however, bombed and this was criticized. Murphy said that Beverly Hills Cop III is "different from the trilogy's first installment because Axel is more mature and no longer the wisecracking rookie cop." He also himself considers it the weakest film in the series. Director John Landis claimed that Eddie Murphy worked against the comedy of Beverly Hills Cop III. Landis said that the film "was a very strange experience. The script was not any good, but I figured, 'So what? I will make it funny with Eddie.' I mean, one of the worst scripts I ever read was [the original] Beverly Hills Cop. It was a piece of shit, that script. But the movie is very funny because Eddie Murphy and Martin Brest made it funny. And with Bronson Pinchot, that was all improvised. Everything funny in that movie is not in the screenplay, so I thought, 'Well, we will do that.' But then I discovered on the first day when I started giving Eddie some shtick, he said, 'You know, John, Axel Foley is an adult now. He is not a wiseass anymore.' I believe he was very jealous of Denzel Washington and Wesley Snipes doing these [straight roles]. So, with Beverly Hills Cop III, I had this strange experience where he was very professional, but he just was not funny. I would try to put him in funny situations, and he would find a way to step around them. It is an odd movie. There are things in it I like, but it is an odd movie." In an interview with The A.V. Club in 2009, Bronson Pinchot claimed that Eddie Murphy "was really depressed" at the time Beverly Hills Cop III was being filmed: "Eddie was going through his period at the time of doing movies that were not hits, and he was very low-spirited, low-energy. I said to him, "All anyone ever wants to know when they meet me is what you're like." And he said, "I bet they don't ask that anymore." And then when we did a scene, we were shooting, and he was so low-energy that John Landis sent him upstairs and said, "Just rest, Eddie, and I'll do the scene with Bronson." So whenever you see my face in the movie, I'm not really talking to Eddie, I'm talking to John Landis. And I can understand it, he was just having a bad stretch. I don't know what started the funk, but it lasted a chunk of time, and that was in the belly of the funk, and he was just really sad and low-energy and I basically did the scene without him there." Eddie Murphy first said he thought "Beverly Hills Cop III was infinitely better than Beverly Hills Cop II." He later claimed during an interview in 2006 on Inside the Actors Studio that he felt the third film was "atrocious" and such a disgrace that "the character was kind of banished for a while [from Hollywood]." He said he felt the third film did not reveal enough of the "edginess" of Axel that was present in the first two films. He also said he hopes to return the edgy qualities to the character when he reprises the role next time, and is going to pay more attention to the development of the project and its quality. Talks of a fourth film have been going on for the past few years.