Three months ago, soon after securing Angelina Jolie for a lead role, all signs pointed to Kenneth Branagh’s Murder On The Orient Express remake finally leaving the station, potentially entering active production before the year’s end. Jolie’s abrupt departure put paid to those early plans, and though Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. has been linked, Branagh’s modern interpretation has largely fallen by the wayside.
With a November 2017 release date still in place, the message currently coming out of Fox is that Murder on the Orient Express is dormant, not dead. As a matter of fact, new findings unearthed by The Hollywood Reporter indicate that Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer are being considered as “names of interest.” It’s by no means a firm confirmation that either will board Kenneth Branagh’s gestating thriller though; neither Depp nor Pfeiffer have opened negotiations at the time of writing, but we’ll be keeping an eye on this one nonetheless.
Having been attached to the modern redo from the get-go, Branagh is very much behind the driver’s seat for this one, helming and headlining the pic as detective Hercule Poirot, a passenger on board the Orient Express from Istanbul – then known as Constantinople – to Paris who begins to suspect something is amiss. A wealthy business tycoon is dead and not a single soul professes to know any information, sparking a nerve-wracking search for clues as the train grinds to a hail in the face of an unrelenting snow storm.
Further in THR’s report, Hilary Strong, CEO of Agatha Christie Limited, shed some light on why they’re pushing ahead with a new adaptation of the story:
“One of the criticisms that I keep getting levied at me is that [the previous film adaptations] were so amazing. ‘How can you remake ‘Murder on the Orient Express’?’ ” she told THR. “They’re iconic films, but they are of their time, and there is a new cinema audience that won’t watch films that were made in 1957 or 1974, and we want them to hear her stories.”
Murder on the Orient Express is still penciled in for release on November 22, 2017. If there are no casting announcements to report before the year is out, expect that release date to be pushed.