Another classic film is about to join the current cinematic landscape of reboots, remakes, and/or re-tellings. Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film, Murder on the Orient Express, stars Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot the genius Belgian detective investigating the murder of an American tycoon aboard the iconic train. The film was a success that grossed $35 million at the box office and was nominated for six Academy Awards, too. Now, director/actor Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Cinderella) is helming a new adaptation of the Agatha Christie story, in addition to starring as Poirot himself.
It was previously reported that Angelina Jolie was circling a key role in Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express, though exactly which role was kept a mystery at the time. We’re hearing the Oscar-winner has passed on the offer, but that the studio behind the project is still courting other big names in Hollywood to play the role that Jolie was in the running for.
According to Variety, Charlize Theron – whose recent roles include Furiosa in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road and Queen Ravenna in The Huntsman: Winter War (reprising her role from Snow White and the Huntsman) – is among those in the running now to take the role that Jolie passed on.
Sidney Lumet’s film, as mentioned, was based on Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel of the same name; a famous literary work that introduced the eccentric yet intelligent Hercule Poirot. The Poirot character then went on to serve as the protagonist in many of her mystery novels that followed. In the Murder on the Orient Express source material in particular, everyone aboard the train is a suspect in the murder, leading to high tensions, twists, and plenty of mystery for Poirot to unravel. The actual train ran from Paris to Istanbul, but stopped service in 1977.
Branagh will produce the film with Ridley Scott, Simon Kinberg and Mark Gordon. James Prichard, the author’s great grandson and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd., and Hilary Strong, CEO at Agatha Christie Ltd., will executive produce as well. The screenplay for the film is from Michael Green, who is currently serving as the co-showrunner on Starz’ American Gods TV series and had a hand in writing such upcoming movies as Wolverine 3, Alien: Covenant and Blade Runner 2. (He was also, admittedly, one of several writers who worked on the failed Green Lantern live-action movie released in 2011.)
The 1974 version of Murder on the Orient Express boasts a stellar cast that includes Hollywood greats like Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Colin Blakely, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York, in addition to Finney. Branagh has a tall order to fill with his re-telling for that reason alone, but is moving in the right direction by looking at today’s top-notch acting talent the fill the cast of his own Agatha Christie film adaptation.
Murder on The Orient Express is set to open in U.S. theaters on November 22nd, 2017.