20th Century Fox Plans Murder on the Orient Express

20th Century Fox has acquired film rights to the iconic mystery novel “Murder on the Orient Express” from Acorn Productions Ltd/Agatha Christie Ltd, the UK based rights holding production arm of RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (RLJE). With more than two billion books sold, Agatha Christie is the best-selling 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.

Though no decision on writers or casting have been confirmed yet, Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg will be producing the film.

Miguel Penella, CEO of RLJ Entertainment, said, “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. We are excited to be working with Fox as well as Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg to produce a new, star-studded adaptation of one of the most well-known mystery novels of all time.”

Founded by Robert L. Johnson, RLJ Entertainment owns a 64% share in Agatha Christie Ltd, which manages Christie’s extensive 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.

“Murder on the Orient Express” was previously made into a 1974 film 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.

Additionally, David Suchet portrayed the popular Belgian detective in all 70 television adaptations of Christie’s Poirot stories, 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 2014. In Sept. 2013, Agatha Christie Ltd and RLJ Entertainment announced the first fully-authorized new Agatha Christie novel to be released in September 2014. Bestselling author Sophie Hannah is writing the novel featuring Hercule Poirot.

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