Fox has shifted the release date for Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express sequel, Death on the Nile, back to 2020. Branagh revived Agatha Christie's world-famous detective character Hercule Poirot on the big screen with last year's Orient Express adaption, a film that he both directed and starred in as Monsieur Poirot himself. The movie was quick to became a box office success (in spite of mixed reviews) and Fox wasted little time before green-lighting a sequel that once again has Branagh both calling the shots and headlining as Christie's iconic Belgian sleuth.
Christie's original Death on the Nile novel was published in 1937 and follows Poirot as he investigates a murder aboard a steamer that is making its way down the Nile. The new cinematic adaptation is being scripted by Michael Green (who also wrote Branagh's Orient Express) and has already found other two members of its intended star-studded cast, in the forms of Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer. While it was recently reported that Branagh was gearing up to start production on Death on the Nile next spring, that may no longer be the case, now that the film's release date has been pushed back about ten months.
In a report on the impending Disney-Fox acquisition (which is now expected to be finalized by January 2019), THR notes that Fox has been rearranging its release calendar of late, in anticipation of the deal. As a direct result, the release date for Death on the Nile has been changed from December 20, 2019 to October 2, 2020.
The Death on the Nile release date change makes sense, in light of the Disney-Fox deal. Branagh's Hercule Poirot sequel would have premiered on the same day as Disney and Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode IX on its previous December 2019 launch date and, thus, might have done little more than cannibalize some of that film's audience at best, or been largely ignored by the moviegoing masses at worst. Moreover, Death on the Nile should have an easier time at the box office in its new 2020 spot, with Tom Hanks' sci-fi film Bios being the only other title set to arrive that same day (for the time being, anyway).
This release date change should also make Branagh's life a bit easier, all things considered. The actor/director still has Disney's Artemis Fowl slated to arrive in August 2019 and would've had to deal with the extra pressure of a pretty quick turnaround between projects, had Fox stuck with Death on the Nile's original December 2019 date. As it stands, Branagh now has an additional ten months to complete his Orient Express followup and deliver a Detective Poirot adventure that's hopefully even better than his first attempt to push a fresh spin on Agatha Christie's quirky character and his world.
- Death on the Nile (2020) release date: Oct 02, 2020