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How a Death on the Nile Sequel Will Change the Agatha Christie Franchise

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Death on the Nile was a box-office disappointment, but according to its filmmakers, the third Agatha Christie adaptation will be much different.

Death on the Nile is far from an outstanding mystery drama film, but it is a modest entry as a sequel to Kenneth Branagh’s more successful 2017 adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express. Despite its quiet debut, the 2022 sequel was better received by audiences, which might indicate why the studio already wishes to continue with the franchise

Death on the Nile is another adaptation of the Agatha Christie mystery, in which famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot investigates a series of crimes committed during an African riverboat trip celebration. But the film also goes deeper into the detective’s own backstory, in World War I, when he gained scars on his mouth and lost the love of his life. It is in the name of love that most crimes in the film are committed, or so it would seem.

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How Death of the Nile Sets Up a Sequel

Poirot grew his mustache after Katherine died in Death on the Nile

Unlike Murder on the Orient Express, which objectively sets up a sequel in its final moments, Death on the Nile doesn’t leave any indication that its story will continue — at least none that can be pointed out directly. The detective’s journey concludes after he solves the murder mystery with his pursuit of love. The film ends with Poirot sitting in a London bar, having shaved his famous mustache and revealing the scars he’s inherited from the war. He is pursuing a relationship with jazz singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo), whom he met on the boat.

Death on the Nile earned a disappointing $45 million in North American theaters and another $136 overseas, far short of Orient Express’ international gross of $352 million. Nevertheless, filmmakers believe they could have a quiet franchise on their hands.

Branagh’s third Poirot film is reportedly titled A Haunting in Venice, based on Christie’s novel Hallowe’en Party. Like the previous films, the Death of the Nile sequel is no stranger to big stars. It’s headlined by Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey and Michelle Yeoh, for starters, with Branagh returning as the detective. The film is set in post-Word War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve, where a retired Poirot attends a séance at a haunted palazzo. Naturally, a murder takes place.

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A Death on the Nile Sequel Can Reinvent the Franchise

Hercules Poriot in Death on the Nile

Steve Asbell, president of Disney-owned 20th Century Studios, sang Branagh’s praises and confirmed that Branagh will be back to direct A Haunting in Venice. “We have other Christie stories,” he said. “I love these films, I love Ken [Branagh]. We have a third script written, by Michael Green, that is a pretty daring shift in genre and in tone. It’s post-war Venice and an adaptation of one of the lesser-known novels. So I think you’ll see the mustache again.”

Branagh also has expressed interest in not only returning to Poirot’s adventures but also in a crossover with Miss Marple, another of Agatha Christie’s famous mystery characters. It would be a fascinating idea that could also expand into a television series. Fans of the novels and the films can now rest assured that there is a future in the franchise, even if it will be marked by major changes to the tone and scope compared to past entries.

Death on the Nile is now available to stream on HBO Max. A Haunting in Venice is expected to premiere on Sept. 15, 2023.

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