Netflix may release Beverly Hills Cop 4 in theaters before it hits streaming

eddie murphy as axel foley in beverly hills cop
(Image credit: Paramount)

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley, the long-gestating fourth movie in the series, has been in development at Netflix for years. That naturally meant the movie would premiere on the streaming platform. Except such an assumption may turn out to be incorrect.

According to a report from Moviehole (opens in new tab), which cites an anonymous source, Netflix could be set to release Beverly Hills Cop 4 in theaters. So if you want to see Eddie Murphy reprise the role of Axel Foley on the big screen, you may be in luck. Of course, the movie will likely movie from theaters to Netflix’s streaming catalogue.

It may seem weird for Netflix to release its movies in theaters, especially such high profile ones (such as Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), but this move wouldn't be unprecedented. A number of Netflix movies have had limited theater releases over the past few years. Typically this is because filmmakers (opens in new tab) have asked for it, as was the case with Martin Scorsese and The Irishman (opens in new tab), or to ensure they qualify for major awards. 

Academy Award eligibility, for instance, requires movies to have at least one week of paid admission at a commercial theater in Los Angeles county. Netflix has had a large number of Oscar nominations, and even a few wins, so it’s hardly a rare occurrence.

As mentioned above, Glass Onion, the sequel to Knives out, has also been in theaters. Its one-week limited release in over 600 U.S. theaters comes 30 days before its Netflix debut. Netflix hasn’t said why it switched up its usual release mode, however there have been rumors that the streamer has been considering a 45-day theatrical release window (which most studios, including Disney and Warner Bros., do) before streaming. 

Analysis: Netflix's box office shift

Other possibilities include Netflix experimenting with a new kind of marketing, in an attempt to drum up hype for the streaming release, or that writer/director Rian Johnson requested it. Given Johnson’s comments (opens in new tab) about the atmosphere of watching Glass Onion with a larger audience, he doesn’t seem to be disappointed.

It’s not clear how much money Glass Onion generated during its opening weekend, since Netflix doesn’t divulge box office figures. However, The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) claims that the movie has earned between $12.7 to $13 million at the North American box office over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. That’s apparently the best Thanksgiving debut of any adult-audience movie.

With that in mind it makes sense that Netflix may reconsider its distribution model for a movie like Beverly Hills Cop 4. Eddie Murphy is a big star, even if he isn’t as big a box office draw as he once was, and he’ll be returning to one of his most iconic roles. And a role from the days before he joined team PG-13. Of all the movies Netflix could release, this one might actually have some of the best box office potential.

Of course this is only a rumor for now, and reports claim (opens in new tab) Netflix has previously denied it has any intention of pivoting to a more wide-spread theatrical release model. So we’re just going to have to wait and see how this all pans out. 

Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley is currently in production, with filming having begun at the end of August 2022. It’s unclear when it might be released on Netflix, beyond reports that the movie has a tentative 2023 release. Don’t expect to arrive until the tail end of the year, if that’s the case.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery is set to arrive on Netflix on December 22. Tom’s Guide streaming editor Henry T. Casey thinks you can wait, as he's seen it, and wishes he’d waited for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery to hit Netflix.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.