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Brett Ratner offers Beverly Hills Cop 4 Update

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If the “Transformers” franchise is Paramount’s big, bad barking dog then the “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise is their frail, sickly moggie that-won’t-eat – Melrose Ave bunch just can’t seem to do anything with it.

A fourth “Beverly Hills Cop” has been on the cards for years. It was originally in development at the now-defunct Eddie Murphy Productions in the late ’90s, but in recent years the responsibility of resurrecting Axel Foley has laid with Paramount are producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (who, ironically, is also the big man on the “Transformers” franchise). It’s gone through a good dozen or so scripts, even more rewrites, and even a couple of different directors – but nobody seems to be able to get it to a place where it’s fit enough to do tricks for the camera.

The closest “Beverly Hills Cop 4″ came to coming to fruition was about this time last year when it looked like Derek Haas & Michael Brandt’s “Beverly Hills Cop 2009″ script was going to form the blueprint for the new movie. The “Wanted” duo had written a yarn that saw Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) returning to Beverly Hills to solve the murder of his good friend, Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold would presumably return for a cameo). Once back in the ‘hills, Foley would go about against crooked cops, buddy up with a limo driver, and discover the city had named a sandwich after him (Yep, ‘The Axel Foley’).Never saw the polish the duo were asked to do, but I didn’t really go for that first draft – if only because I never got past them killing off the beloved Billy Rosewood. It just seemed wrong. Sure, there needed to be a reason why Axel would be headed back to Beverly Hills, and that’s certainly a reason, but it just nailed down the film in a ‘low’ that it never recovered from.I also didn’t think the script struggled with it’s tone – it shifted rather uneasily between full-throttle action/thriller and hammy comedy.

Thankfully, it sounds like the idea of killing Billy Rosewood is off the cards – not only because Brandt & Haas’ script has been tossed out, but because ‘attached’ director Brett Ratner is still working out what kind of story he wants to tell. In other words, “Cop 4″ is still stuck in neutral, whilst Ratner and his mice come up with an idea. He doesn’t sound opposed to keeping Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) around though, which is good.

The filmmaker tells Empire, “I’m working very hard on the fourth. It’s very difficult, especially since there were three before. We’re trying to figure out some important things, like where do we start? Is Axel retired? Is he in Beverly Hills? Is he on vacation? Does Judge Reinhold return as the loveable Billy Rosewood? Many questions to figure out, but I’m hoping to have a script before film disappears from our existence.”

It’s hard to say when, or even if “Beverly Hills Cop 4″ will ever happen – particularly since it’s star doesn’t even sound too confident it’ll come to fruition. Speaking to the media at the L.A junket for “Shrek Forever After”, Murphy mentioned that although it was full-speed ahead on a “Nutty Professor 3″, a “Beverly Hills Cop 4″ was much less of a lock. The actor noted that it’d be in development for years, and he hadn’t heard much on it lately. But more so, Brett Ratner is the kind of director who attaches and disattaches himself to projects all the time – “Superman”, “Escape from New York”, “Conan” – it’s more than likely he’ll ditch this one, particularly considering what a difficult nut it’s proving to crack, and jump onto something a little less troublesome (in fact, his next project is a Ben Stiller comedy called “Tower Heist”). If that happens, then the project takes yet <i>another</i> step back. It just seems to be one of those projects that seems a little comfortable stuck in development hell.

In other words folks, as much as we’d like to see Foley back on the beat again kids, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

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