But things quickly became complicated. First, who would direct? The production would be complicated, requiring elaborate theme rides to be built, animated sequences, the hiring of hundreds of extras for the crowd scenes and lots of action--meaning an experienced director was a must. "Cop II" director Tony Scott said no. A roster of names including Joe Dante, Kevin Hooks and Robert Townsend, also circulated.
The choice? John Landis, a shocker to nearly everyone. Until a few weeks ago, Murphy and Landis hadn't spoken in two years--after Murphy publicly derided the director after the two made "Coming to America," vowing never to work with him again.
Other directors reportedly viewed the prospect of working with Murphy and his entourage as "one giant headache," a source said, whereas Landis was willing to forgive and forget. Landis' fortunes have fallen considerably since "Coming to America," with such duds as "Oscar" and "Innocent Blood"--not to mention the "Twilight Zone: The Movie" trial, where he was charged, though later found not guilty, with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three people. Sources said Murphy conceded that Landis knew how to direct him in "Coming to America" and "Trading Places." In addition, the director isn't intimidated by Murphy and "wouldn't allow him to turn in another lazy performance," a source said.
As one Hollywood wag put it, "I've heard of strange bedfellows, but this one takes the cake."
Things became stickiest over Silver's deal as producer. His fees, a "Silver Pictures" screen credit and other details, had been agreed to by Paramount Communications President Stanley Jaffe. There was a hitch, though. Jaffe decreed that Paramount would spend not more than $55 million to make "Cop III."
With a longer pre-production schedule, that was possible, Silver said, but not by a Feb. 1 start date. To meet that objective, he would have to hire 24 hour-a-day crews resulting in massive amounts of overtime--a situation that got him into multimillion-dollar cost overruns on "Die Hard 2" and "Hudson Hawk" and heat in the press.
Jaffe stood firm and so did Silver. Silver was released from his contract. Murphy's manager, Mark Lipsky, reportedly was angry and his client was crushed.
Silver's reaction was said to be mixed. He was out big bucks but, as someone close to him said, felt that if he took on "Cop III" it would "definitely go $20-25 million over budget" and he would get "barbecued in the media."
The job goes to producers Bob Rehme and Mace Neufeld, responsible for the successful Tom Clancy adaptations "The Hunt for Red October" and "Patriot Games."