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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers regarding the ending of Kenneth Branagh's Murder On The Orient Express. If you have not yet seen the film, and wish to go in knowing nothing about the third act, we recommend bookmarking this page and saving it until after your screening!
At the end of Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express, fans of legendary author Agatha Christie are presented with an obvious and wonderful hint of what is coming next for her legendary detective on the big screen. Almost immediately after wrapping up one mystery, Hercule Poirot (Branagh) is urged to make his way to Egypt, as a murder in Cairo requires his investigative mind -- a reference to Christie's Death on the Nile. It's a great tease, and the director recently told me what led to its inclusion at the end of his film:
It's a great book, you know. Michael -- Michael Green, our screenwriter -- wanted to feel this Poirot who never gets a holiday. You could call it, instead of Murder on the Orient Express, you could say Hercule Poirot Tries To Take A Holiday. First in Istanbul, then on the Orient Express, then at the end he gets sent to Egypt. Death on the Nile -- if we did one, we'd love to. The public will decide; they come to see this in sufficient numbers we'll be there.
Earlier this month I was invited to fly out to London, England for the Murder on the Orient Express press junket, and it was while sitting down with Kenneth Branagh that I got the scoop on the potential sequel. Just like every filmmaker who is trying to not count chickens before they hatch, Branagh wouldn't confirm that a follow-up is in the works, but did express his great desire to return to this world.
All in all, Hercule Poirot is a main player in more than 80 narratives written by Agatha Christie -- including novels, short stories and a play -- so why Death on the Nile? Kenneth Branagh also used part of our interview time to discuss just that, and also the themes that he is very excited to tackle in that specific story (particularly given some of the special character details introduced in his Murder on the Orient Express adaptation). Said Branagh,
I'd love to play Poirot again and that's a very, very passionate book about obsessive love. So it's very dangerous. And given that we have a Poirot who has this mysterious relationship to Katherine. Who is she? What is she? And where does he sit when it comes to the world of romance -- beyond the hint that it never goes unpunished? I think there's gold in them thar hills if we get the chance.
Murder on the Orient Express is already off to a strong start at the box office, making a sequel a possibility, and it's easy to think about what Death on the Nile would be on the big screen in the hands of Kenneth Branagh. The situation demands that the movie pick up immediately after its predecessor, and following on the heels of Michael Green's idea, it would be amazing to see how that would affect the character on a longer timeline. Looking even further ahead (and this is purely a pipe dream), it would be pretty great if we eventually got to a third film that picked up immediately after Death on the Nile and eventually saw Hercule Poirot running a bit ragged.
Hopefully we'll get more news on the big screen future of Kenneth Branagh's Poirot soon, but for now audiences can see Murder on the Orient Express -- starring Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp and more -- in theaters now.