Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express adaptation is getting a sequel, based on Agatha Christie’s 1937 novel Death on the Nile. Branagh’s Orient Express (itself, based on Christie’s 1934 book of the same name) actually concludes with a scene that references the events of Death on the Nile, in the process essentially setting the stage for a sequel that follows Branagh’s rendition of the brilliant Belgian detective Hercule Poirot on his infamous “holiday vacation” to Cairo.
The main setting of Death on the Nile, like Murder on the Orient Express, is that of a luxurious moving vessel, here in the form of a steamer touring Egypt along the Nile River. Also like Orient Express, Death on the Nile the novel picks up with Poirot while he’s trying to enjoy some time off from his routine crime-solving, only for his break to be interrupted when a guest aboard the steamer is found murdered and Poirot is called upon to figure out which of the riverboat’s many guests is the one responsible for the heinous deed. Branagh’s Orient Express concluded with Poirot heading off to investigate a suspicious death on the Nile, raising the question of whether the new film version of Death on the Nile will be taking some liberties with Christie’s source material, or if the movie will start off with Poirot investigating a different murder in Egypt altogether.
According to THR, 20th Century Fox is bringing back Murder on the Orient Express screenwriter Michael Green to adapt Death on the Nile for the big screen as well. Branagh made it clear that he would be interested in playing the Poirot character again while making the press rounds for Murder on the Orient Express earlier this year, and THR is reporting that the actor/filmmaker is indeed expected to both direct Death on the Nile and reprise his version of Christie’s detail-obsessed, mustache-wearing, sleuth.
Much like Murder on the Orient Express was first adapted into a star-studded Hollywood film back in 1974, Death on the Nile was previously brought to life on the big screen with a cast full of A-list talent in 1978. Branagh’s rendition is likewise slated to feature plenty of big name talent to round out its ensemble, just like his version of Orient Express did. However, it might be some time before any fresh casting announcements for Death on the Nile are made, seeing as Branagh is currently working on getting Disney’s Artemis Fowl movie adaptation off the ground in time to make a Summer 2019 theatrical release.
Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express is already a commercial success, having grossed over $148 million worldwide against a $55 million production budget after a few weeks in theaters (with the film due to open in several additional international markets over the Thanksgiving holiday frame). The film has been mostly praised by critics for its decadent production design and old-fashioned brand of entertainment, but also criticized for its tonal issues and for fixing the spotlight a bit too much on Branagh’s scenery-chewing performance as Hercule Poirot, at the expense of its supporting cast. Now that Branagh’s iteration of Monsieur Poirot has been properly established, perhaps Death on the Nile will prove to be a little less fixated on its detective protagonist.
All things considered, Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express offers a fresh change of pace from the usual tentpole fare nowadays and there’s no reason that Death on the Nile cannot follow suit and improve upon its predecessor’s shortcomings, at the same time. Here’s to seeing more of Branagh’s Poirot and his marvelously ridiculous mustache on the big screen in the future.
A release date has not yet been set for Death on the Nile.
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