RLJ Entertainment Inks License Deal With Fox for New Agatha Christie Movie19 Dec, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Fox secures rights to reboot of 'Murder on the Orient Express,' last made into a feature film in 1974 by Sidney Lumet and garnering six Oscar nominations
RLJ Entertainment Dec. 19 said it has signed a license agreement with 20th Century Fox Studios for film rights to the iconic mystery novel Murder on the Orient Express from Acorn Productions Ltd/Agatha Christie Ltd, the U.K. based rights holding production arm of RLJ Entertainment.
With more than two billion books sold, Agatha Christie is the bestselling novelist of all time, and Murder on the Orient Express is one of her most popular novels. The 1934 novel features her internationally renowned detective, Hercule Poirot, investigating a murder on the Orient Express.
RLJ Entertainment, which includes Image Entertainment and Acorn Media Group, owns a 64% share in Agatha Christie Ltd, which manages Christie's literary works, including more than 80 novels and short story collections, 19 plays, a film library of nearly 40 TV films, and iconic characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.
Agatha Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, is chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd.
Though no decisions on writers or casting have been confirmed yet, Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator), Mark Gordon (Saving Private Ryan) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) will be producing the film.
Murder on the Orient Express was previously made into a 1974 movie directed by Sidney Lumet. The film received six Oscar nominations, including best actor for Albert Finney as Poirot, and winning best supporting actress for Ingrid Bergman. The all-star cast of suspects also featured Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, Colin Blakely, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York.
Actor David Suchet has portrayed Belgian detective Poirot in all 70 television adaptations, including Murder on the Orient Express in 2010. The final five Poirot television mysteries aired in the U.K. in 2013 and will debut in the U.S. in on PBS 2014. In Sept. 2013, Agatha Christie Ltd and RLJ Entertainment announced the first fully-authorized new Agatha Christie novel to be released next September. Bestselling author Sophie Hannah is writing the novel featuring Hercule Poirot.
“Since acquiring a majority share of Agatha Christie's literary estate in February 2012, we have worked closely with Mathew Prichard, Agatha's grandson, to find the right studio and filmmakers to grow the Christie brand,” said Miguel Penella, CEO of RLJ Entertainment, in a statement. “We are excited to be working with Fox as well as Scott, Gordon and Kinberg to produce a new, star-studded adaptation of one of the most well-known mystery novels of all time.”