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‘Murder on the Orient Express’ Sequel in Development

Fox is staying in the Agatha Christie business.
By  · Published on November 21st, 2017

Fox is staying in the Agatha Christie business.

The Hollywood Reporter has announced that Death on the Nile is the next Agatha Christie adaptation in the pipeline at 20th Century Fox.

Following up on Kenneth Branagh‘s immensely successful adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express is a case for famed fictional detective Hercule Poirot at sea. In true locked-room mystery form, Death on the Nile confines Poirot’s adventures to a riverboat cruise similar to how the events of Orient Express take place on a train.

Here’s a brief synopsis of Death on the Nile from the official Agatha Christie website: “The tranquillity of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful. A girl who had everything…until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting nothing was ever quite what it seemed.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Death on the Nile found its way to the big screen. The novel was first adapted in the 1970s by John Guillermin. The film, released in 1978, starred Peter Ustinov as Poirot, and an assortment of actors including Jane Birkin, Lois Chiles, Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, and Maggie Smith.

Agatha Christie wrote incredible, thrilling mysteries, and her knack for creating such impossible ones provided a treasure trove for a bunch of adaptations that already have a great head start. However, it seems that at least in 2017, despite stunning visuals and the draw of a stellar cast, Branagh’s Orient Express falls incredibly short of the masterful whodunits Christie is known for.

Tomris Laffly posed a great question at the start of her review of Orient Express: “Why watch a whodunit if you already know who had done it? The answer lies in our need for comfort.” Although the big-budget ensemble film starring the likes of Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, and Judi Dench has consistently made good money since its November 10th release, the film received mixed reviews overall.

Laffly, in particular, points out that “instead of the cinematic equivalent of a cunning page-turner, I found an uninspired production that felt wrong at once like a designer knock-off: passable from a distance until closer inspection.” Christopher Orr for the Atlantic praises the visual spectacle of Orient Express but felt the film lacking in narrative (and indeed, necessity). Susan Wloszczyna for Roger Ebert states, “there is too little levity and cleverness afoot.” There are positive reviews of Orient Express, which mostly center around its nostalgic quality and entertainment value.

Nevertheless, the Death on the Nile team has their work cut out for them if Fox wants to assemble a franchise of Christie adaptations. Orient Express screenwriter Michael Green will pen the script for Death on the Nile. While there is no director set for the project, Branagh is expected to return to helm the film and reprise his role as Poirot.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)