Kenneth Branagh to Return in Murder on the Orient Express Sequel



20th Century Fox is moving forward with a sequel to the Agatha Christie adaptation Murder on the Orient Express, entitled Death On the Nile. The studio is bringing back Murder on the Orient Express writer Michael Green to pen the script. While there is no deal in place as of yet for filmmaker/star Kenneth Branagh, he is expected to return to the director’s chair, while also coming back to star as detective Hercule Poirot. Whether Poirot’s epic mustache also returns remains to be seen, but that seems likely as well.

Death on the Nile was first published in 1937, three years after Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was published. The story finds Hercule Poirot on vacation in Cairo, Egypt, where he becomes entangled in a deadly love triangle. While Poirot is the only character from Murder on the Orient Express to cross over, the story features the same type of wealthy socialites that populate the cast of characters in Orient Express, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this ensemble cast is chocked full as much talent as the Orient Express cast.

Death On the Nile was also adapted into a feature film back in 1978, with John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno, King Kong Lives) directing from an adapted screenplay by Anthony Shaffer (Sleuth, The Wicker Man). Much like this version of Murder on the Orient Express and the 1974 adaptation, the 1978 version of Death on the Nile featured an all-star cast that included Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, along with Mia Farrow, Bette Davis, Jean Birkin, George Kennedy, Angela Lansbury, David Niven, Maggie Smith and Jack Warden. The story is considered to be a favorite of many longtime Agatha Christie readers.

Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile are just two of the 33 Agatha Christie novels Hercule Poirot is featured in, along with 54 more short stories, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the studio is trying to launch a Poirot-centered franchise with Kenneth Branagh continuing to return as this iconic character, while also directing as well. While Murder on the Orient Express isn’t necessarily a massive box office hit, it has taken in $51.7 million domestic and $96.5 million from international markets for $148.2 million worldwide, from a $55 million budget. The movie has fared well in China ($30.2 million) and the U.K. ($17.2 million), which are both likely factors into the sequel being greenlit.

This murder mystery sequel caps off one hell of a year for writer Michael Green, who has had four major movies hit theaters this year. He wrote the screenplays for 20th Century Fox’s R-rated hit Logan, along with Scott Frank and director James Mangold, and he also got a story credit on Alien: Covenant while writing Blade Runner 2049 (and two of the short film prequels that debuted online) and Murder on the Orient Express. He also co-created the hit Starz series American Gods with Bryan Fuller. His next film, Call of the Wild, is currently in pre-production. The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news of this Murder on the Orient Express sequel.



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