Even though Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express didn’t necessarily win a majority of critics over it did do solid business with both audiences that translated to some great box-office numbers making over $310 million worldwide from a budget of $55 million.
Murder On The Orient Express was a pretty straightforward adaptation of Christie’s 1934 novel. The movie found Hercule Poirot determining who committed the eponymous crime from a lineup of a dozen suspects.
It was announced that a sequel based on Death On The Nile is in development. But Branagh is already thinking past this upcoming movie, as he’s interested in constructing a Poirot/Christie “cinematic universe.” Branagh said:
“I think there are possibilities, aren’t there? With 66 books and short stories and plays, she – and she often brings people together in her own books actually, so innately – she enjoyed that. You feel as though there is a world – just like with Dickens, there’s a complete world that she’s created – certain kinds of characters who live in her world – that I think has real possibilities.”
Cinematic universes are all well and good but when every little success under the sun wants to get in on the action it starts to become tedious rather than entertaining. Perhaps its just the language we’re used to now, after all, Agatha Christie’s creation has appeared in over 30 books so there is a lot of material to mine there. Of course, sequels are not necessarily “shared cinematic universes.”
Branagh was really one of the reasons this movie version was such a success. His performance as Hercule, not to mention his slick and stylish direction (and penchant for the operatic), made for an entertaining afternoon at the movies. Saying he was most excited to return to the possibility of Poirot’s feelings being mired in the mysteries he solves. “One of the things that I liked — really loved doing here that the audience responded to was that Hercule Poirot, for all his intellectual power, got dragged into it, got dragged into feeling it. And I think it’s a hell of a trip, that trip down the Nile. So I think it would be great to see how he, how his heart, responds to that kind of intensity,” he said.
Death On The Nile will find Branagh also returning to the director’s chair, with Michael Green also returning to write the sequel which has no scheduled release date. Originally published in 1937, the novel followed the detective solving the murder of a wealthy socialite in Egypt.
Murder On The Orient Express will be available on home video in the spring.
Images: 20th Century Fox, Collins