Could Death On The Nile end up being Kenneth Branagh’s last time playing Hercule Poirot? Given the movie’s poor performance at the box office, it might well be.
Back in 2017 the world was a different place.
A new worldwide pandemic was just a prediction in most school science books.
Disney Plus hadn’t even launched, and Kenneth Branagh was just about to release and star in Murder On The Orient Express.
The 20th Century Fox release was the first cinematic release of the character since Peter Ustinov starred in the 1988 release, Appointment with Death.
Most audiences in Europe had come to know of David Suchet as the Belgian detective in the ITV series, Agatha Christie’s Poirot which ran from 1989-2013.
Branagh had big shoes to fill.
The 2017 film was greenlit in 2013, and questions remained whether it was a film anyone was actually asking for but eventually an all-star cast was signed.
From Dame Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and a star on the rise in Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley ensured a box office success on a £42m ($55m) budget.
In the UK, the film grossed £24m ($32m).
It made a total of £79m ($103m) in the US with a worldwide total of £269m ($352m) making more than its production costs back and then some.
So why has the 2022 sequel, Death On The Nile, perhaps one of if not the most famous of Agatha Christie’s novels, performed so poorly?
With a budget of around £70m ($90m) its returned only £7m in the UK, £29m ($38m) in the US and £88m ($116m) worldwide.
It’s been a huge bomb especially considering the cost of delays due to Covid-19.
So, what went wrong?
Did Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot Sequel Mess Up The Casting?
Whilst the first film had multiple award winners in Depp, Dench, Dafoe, Jacobi, Pfeiffer, Branagh himself, not forgetting the box office draw of some of those names, it was a winner already on paper.
Certainly, in the UK and Europe, the appeal of Dench, Jacobi, and Daisy Ridley came into play, along with Branagh in amassing the £24m within the adult market.
Death On The Nile failed to offer a similar set of casting.
Armie Hammer has never been a box office draw, you might remember the huge box office bomb that was, The Lone Ranger…
The same can apply to Gal Gadot who is Wonder Woman.
We can’t attribute the box office success of the DC film solely down to her.
She’s one of the world’s highest paid actresses, but looking at her filmography she’s not really done much to deserve that.
The casting was strong as far as British names are concerned, but not in terms of bankable stars worldwide.
In other words, the movie really lacked star power.
Is Disney the problem?
We can’t ignore the way Disney has handled any 20th Century Fox release (which seems to be with distain).
A lack of promotion, constant reshuffling of release dates hasn’t helped matters either.
Are Adult Audiences Just Not Coming Back To Cinemas Yet?
Questions have remained whether the adult audience is ready to come back to cinemas.
Just look at how The Last Duel from Ridley Scott (also under the Fox banner) vastly underperformed at the box office.
Are older audiences just not returning to cinemas after the pandemic?
Expectations for the film were high.
Disney was expecting the movie to gross at least £150-191m – ($200-250m worldwide) and it failed to do so.
Arguably the pandemic and reshuffling of release dates had an effect and a knock-on effect for the interest in the release.
But the casting also wasn’t strong enough.
Moreover, the film itself wasn’t acclaimed by critics and there just wasn’t enough ‘star’ appeal to make it work.
Will we see Hercule Poirot again?
Possibly, but probably not with Kenneth Branagh back in the lead role.
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