While the main mystery of Murder on the Orient Express is somewhat neatly wrapped up at the end of the film, it is not the end of Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh). As he exits the Express, a police officer stops him with news of a murder "right on the bloody Nile." Though Poirot is exhausted by the emotional toll of the case he just solved and longs for a holiday, he jumps at the chance to solve yet another case.
The turn makes sense based on his character, who never truly turns down the chance to be the avenger of the innocent. Despite the ending of the film being rather somber, the promise of a new mystery adds a bit of excitement; Poirot is not undone by what he has uncovered but rather ready to face yet another crime.
Death on the Nile, another famous Poirot tale, centers on the murder of a socialite. The adventure takes place on a steamer touring the Nile, a similarly confined space to the Orient Express; it's another mystery set in a limited space where the characters could all easily be rubbing elbows with the murderer, adding a claustrophobic and exciting air to the proceedings. Similarly, a luxury steamer provides the perfect set dressing for a glamorous mystery, allowing for a stylish production that draws from the first film. The suspects are just as varied and interesting as those in Orient Express, offering another chance for a star-studded cast. There will have to some changes to the source though; given that Poirot is called to the scene after the murder is committed, the plot will be changed from Poirot being asked to investigate mysterious happenings by the victim herself.
While Murder on the Orient Express did not receive purely glowing reviews from critics, it is currently doing battle for second place at the box office (after smash hit Thor: Ragnarok). If the theater returns continue to do well, executives could see that there is a market for a new and modern Poirot. Branagh and company have also spoken positively about a sequel, which makes sense given that there is so much material to draw from for future films. An ongoing series of Poirot mysteries, each with a truly excellent cast of notable stars, could see serious box office revenue; after all, who doesn't like a good mystery?
The future successes of the franchise would ride on the director continuing to draw on what made Orient Express so delightful as well as building off of criticisms of the film to craft a more solid film. Branagh, an acclaimed director, gave the film an old Hollywood sparkle that set it apart from other films currently playing. The ensemble helped elevate the film as well, and there are plenty of stars who would most likely leap at the chance to join a Branagh-helmed adventure that's a simple fun ride. Doubling down on these classic ideas could turn this Poirot into something very unique.
Ultimately, it all comes down to the box office. At the time of writing, there is no clear victor in the battle between Orient Express and Daddy's Home 2 for the number 2 spot at the box office. However, if Orient Express triumphs and holds steady over the next few weeks, it could mean that audiences will once more see the adventures of Poirot - and perhaps more adaptations of Agatha Christie's most famous works; a Christie Cinematic Universe could have been born this weekend.
- Murder on the Orient Express (2017) release date: Nov 10, 2017