Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express sequel Death on the Nile will begin filming in the UK next spring. Branagh’s take on the classic Agatha Christie murder-mystery wasn’t as warmly received as Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-winning 1974 adaptation, but critics did praise the movie for its lavishing production values and visual style. Audiences went on to power Orient Express to a $353 million gross at the global box office against a $55 million production budget, making it a no-brainer when Fox gave the go-ahead to a followup just a couple weeks after the film had opened in theaters.
Branagh, as he did on Orient Express, will direct Death on the Nile from an adapted script by Michael Green, in addition to starring as the world-famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The original novel by Christie was published in 1937 and has been adapted for the big and small screen a few times over now, including the star-studded 1974 film version and, most recently, as an episode for the ITV series Agatha Christie’s Poirot. 2017’s Orient Express actually concluded with a scene that saw Branagh’s Poirot set off to investigate a crime in Egypt that may or may not be related to the eponymous “Death” in the sequel.
GWW reports that Branagh’s Death on the Nile is expected to film in the UK in Longcross Studios, England, like Orient Express before it. Branagh is currently in post-production on Disney’s Artemis Fowl, but is expected to begin shooting Death on the Nile by early to spring 2019, in order to make its scheduled December 2019 theatrical release date. It’s not clear yet if Branagh intends to film Death on the Nilewith 65 mm cameras as he did Orient Express, but the sequel will reunite him with most of the same behind the scenes crew from that movie (including, his recurring cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos).
As far as casting goes, however, Branagh should be the only Orient Express actor who returns for Death on the Nile. Christie’s original novel takes place after Orient Express and even references certain events from that story (namely, a red kimono that serves as a key plot point), but otherwise functions as a standalone narrative about Poirot. Branagh’s film adaptation is expected to follow suit and reveal what happens when Poirot tries to continue his vacation by taking a holiday trip on a steamer traveling down the Nile… only for one of the guests to turn up dead, thus forcing Poirot to put his sleuthing skills to work once again.
Still, it will be interesting to see if Branagh’s Death on the Nile deviates from Christie’s source material and includes more direct connections to the characters and story from Orient Express. Branagh’s film adaptation of the latter ended with Poirot realizing that not all crimes are as morally black and white as he would like them to be, so it’s possible the sequel will build on his character arc in that respect. Death on the Nile could even wind up including or referencing other famous events and characters from Christie’s books, thus setting the stage for the Christie movie universe that Branagh has suggested is a real possibility. It’s just too bad Josh Gad won’t be baiting Daisy Ridley for Star Wars spoilers, this time around.