Death on the Nile is a 2022 mystery film directed by Kenneth Branagh from a screenplay by Michael Green, based on the 1937 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. It was produced by Branagh, Ridley Scott, Judy Hofflund, and Kevin J. Walsh. The film is a sequel to Murder on the Orient Express (2017), and stars Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Branagh, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo, Jennifer Saunders, and Letitia Wright. Branagh and Bateman return from the first film, reprising their roles as Hercule Poirot and Bouc, respectively. The film is the third screen adaptation of Christie's novel, following the 1978 film and an episode of the television series Agatha Christie's Poirot broadcast in 2004. Principal photography began in September 2019, with filming taking place at Longcross Studios in England, completing that December.
Death on the Nile was first released in several international markets on February 9, 2022, and in the United Kingdom and the United States on February 11, following several delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who perceived it as being inferior to the previous adaptations but appreciated its old-fashioned style. A sequel is in development.
In World War I, a young Hercule Poirot devises a successful strategy to advance his Belgian company, but a booby trap mutilates his face. His fiancée, nurse Katherine, does not recoil, but tells him he will grow a mustache to hide his scars. In 1937, at a London club, Poirot watches blues singer Salome Otterbourne perform and sees Jacqueline "Jackie" de Bellefort dancing passionately with her fiancé Simon Doyle. Jackie's childhood friend, heiress Linnet Ridgeway, enters, and is introduced to Simon.
Six weeks later, in Egypt, Poirot encounters his friend Bouc and Bouc's mother, Euphemia, a painter. Bouc invites Poirot to join them at the hotel to celebrate the wedding of a surprising couple – Linnet and Simon. Others join their honeymoon trip: Linnet's maid Louise Bourget; Salome and her niece/manager Rosalie, Linnet's schoolfriend; Linnet's godmother Marie Van Schuyler with her nurse Mrs. Bowers; Linnet's cousin Andrew Katchadourian, who manages her accounts; and doctor Linus Windlesham. Linnet asks Poirot for protection from the obsessive Jackie, who has stalked them to Egypt; he cannot dissuade Jackie, who shows him she carries a gun.
To escape Jackie, the group boards the cruise ship S.S. Karnak. Linnet tells Poirot she does not trust her guests. During an excursion to Abu Simbel, Bouc confesses that he is dating Rosalie, despite his mother's disapproval; Poirot is interested in Salome. After a boulder nearly crushes Linnet and Simon, the guests return to the Karnak to discover Jackie has boarded. Poirot, overcome by champagne, confides to Jackie that he renounced romance after Katherine died in a mortar explosion. Linnet goes to bed and Simon confronts Jackie, who shoots him in the leg and attempts to shoot herself. Rosalie and Bouc intervene. They bring Jackie to Mrs. Bowers, while Windlesham treats Simon. The following morning, Louise discovers Linnet has been shot in the head, and her valuable necklace has been stolen.
Poirot, assisted by Simon and Bouc, interrogates the guests, who each bear a grudge against Linnet:
- Louise was to leave Linnet's employment to be married, but Linnet ended the engagement.
- Windlesham was engaged to Linnet until she left him for Simon.
- Andrew was embezzling from Linnet.
- Bowers' formerly wealthy family was ruined by Linnet's father, during the Great Depression.
- Van Schuyler is a beneficiary of Linnet's will. She and Bowers are lovers.
- Salome was the target of Linnet's racist remarks, years ago.
- Euphemia finds Linnet's necklace. Poirot suspects she resented Linnet for introducing Bouc to Rosalie.
Jackie was monitored by Bowers all night. Her gun is dredged from the Nile, wrapped in Van Schuyler's missing scarf and a bloody handkerchief.
Poirot reveals that Euphemia hired him to investigate Rosalie. He concludes that she is more than worthy of her son's affection. Rosalie, angry at being investigated, storms off and discovers Louise's body. Her throat has been slit. She has money, so Poirot suspects that she witnessed Linnet's murder and blackmailed the killer. He sees a possible witness' outline in the blood spatter. Interrogating Bouc with Simon, Poirot deduces that Bouc found Linnet dead and stole her necklace to gain financial freedom from his mother, but panicked and put it in Euphemia's belongings. Bouc witnessed Louise's murder, but before he can reveal the killer, he is shot dead; Poirot chases the killer, but only finds the abandoned gun.
Locking the surviving guests in the boat's bar, Poirot reveals that Simon killed Linnet, with Jackie acting as mastermind. They are still lovers, and arranged Simon's romance with Linnet to inherit her wealth. Jackie drugged Poirot's champagne and pretended to shoot Simon with a blank. Simon faked his injury with paint stolen from Euphemia. While Jackie distracted Bouc and Rosalie, Simon killed Linnet and then shot his own leg, muffled by Van Schuyler's scarf. Jackie killed Louise with Windlesham's scalpel, and Bouc with Andrew's gun. Faced with the proof of Simon's paint-stained handkerchief, Jackie—knowing that there is no escape—embraces Simon and shoots him through the back, killing them both with one shot.
As the passengers disembark, Poirot is unable to voice his feelings to Salome. Six months later, a clean-shaven Poirot visits her club to watch her rehearse, alone in the dark.
- Tom Bateman as Bouc, Hercule Poirot's friend and Euphemia's son.
- Annette Bening as Euphemia, a renowned painter and Bouc's mother.
- Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot, a renowned detective celebrated for his rare deductive skills.
- Russell Brand as Linus Windlesham, a former aristocrat-turned-doctor and Linnet's former fiancé.
- Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian, Linnet's cousin and trustee.
- Dawn French as Mrs. Bowers, Marie Van Schuyler's nurse and clandestine lover.
- Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway-Doyle, a wealthy heiress, Simon's wife and Jacqueline's former friend.
- Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Linnet's husband and Jacqueline's former lover.
- Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget, Linnet's personal maid.
- Emma Mackey as Jacqueline "Jackie" de Bellefort, a former friend of Linnet and Simon's scorned lover.
- Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne, a renowned jazz singer and Rosalie's aunt.
- Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler, Linnet's godmother and a socialite-turned-communist.
- Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne, Salome's niece, business manager, Linnet's classmate and Bouc's lady-love.
- Susannah Fielding as Katherine, Poirot's lover who is killed during the First World War.
In 2015, Christie's great-grandson James Prichard, chairman of Agatha Christie Limited, expressed enthusiasm for sequels, citing the positive collaboration with Branagh and the production team. In May 2017, Branagh expressed interest in further installments if the first film was successful. On November 20, 2017, it was announced that 20th Century Fox was developing Death on the Nile as a sequel to their version of Murder on the Orient Express with Michael Green returning to pen the script and Kenneth Branagh set to return on camera as Poirot, and behind the camera as director.
In September 2018, Gal Gadot joined the cast. In addition, Paco Delgado was hired to design the costumes. In October 2018, Armie Hammer joined the cast, and Tom Bateman was confirmed to reprise his role as Bouc for the film. In January 2019, Jodie Comer had joined the cast. In April 2019, Letitia Wright joined the cast. Annette Bening was in talks to join in June. Russell Brand joined the cast in August 2019. Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Sophie Okonedo and Jennifer Saunders were added in September, with Comer not being involved.
Principal photography began on September 30, 2019, at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England. The film was supposed to be filmed in Morocco instead of Egypt, but filming took place only in England.
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle served as the editor for Death on the Nile. Double Negative (DNEG) provided the visual effects for the film, with Academy Award-winning special effects artist George Murphy as the overall visual effects supervisor. Additional VFX were provided by Lola VFX and Raynault VFX.
In January 2019, Patrick Doyle, a frequent collaborator on Branagh's films (including the film's predecessor), was announced as the composer for the film.
The film had its world premiere in France and South Korea on February 9, 2022. After having been rescheduled several times owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Death on the Nile was theatrically released on February 11, 2022, by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through the 20th Century Studios label. The film was originally set to be released on December 20, 2019, before being rescheduled to October 9, 2020, due to production issues. It was then pushed back two weeks to October 23, and again to December 18, in response to the domestic box office underperformance of Tenet during the COVID-19 pandemic. In November 2020, the studio removed the film, along with Free Guy, from its upcoming release schedule until further notice. The next month, the film was rescheduled to September 17, 2021. In March 2021, it was then moved to the current February 2022 date. The film was banned in Lebanon and Kuwait due to Gadot's former association with the Israel Defense Forces. The film was allowed to be released in Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. The film was released in China on February 19, 2022, making it the first Hollywood blockbuster to be released in the Chinese market after The Matrix Resurrections, which was released on January 14, 2022.
Disney spent $18 million on television commercials promoting the film by the time it premiered in theaters. Social media analytic RelishMix said the film had a social media reach of 217.9 million interactions, "at social norms for a campaign that began 18 months ago in August 2020 and wrestled with Covid re-dates and other headline news, such as Armie Hammer." Deadline Hollywood said Disney's marketing campaign was "anchored on a socially media quiet Gadot, who was more active during Red Notice."
In the United States and Canada, Death on the Nile was released alongside Marry Me and Blacklight, and was projected to gross $11–17 million from 3,280 theaters in its opening weekend. The film grossed $12.9 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office. Overall audiences during its opening were 51% male, 77% above the age of 25, 47% above 35, and 28% above 45. The ethnic breakdown of the audience showed that 57% were Caucasian, 15% Hispanic and Latino Americans, 13% African American, and 15% Asian or other. The film made $6.6 million in its second weekend, and $4.5 million in its third, placing fourth both times. The film earned $2.75 million in its fourth weekend, $2.4 million in its fifth, and $1.65 million in its sixth. The film dropped out of the box office top ten in its seventh weekend, finishing eleventh with $630,520.
Outside the U.S. and Canada, the film grossed $20.7 million in its opening weekend from 47 international markets. The film opened in China on February 19, 2022. It opened poorly in the country, finishing fourth behind three Chinese holdovers with $5.9 million. Including its Chinese debut, the film earned $19.8 million in its second international weekend. It made an additional $10.6 million from 47 markets in its third weekend, crossing the $100 million mark worldwide, $5.1 million in its fourth, $3 million in its fifth, and $1.6 million in its sixth.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 63% of 256 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.90/10. The website's consensus reads, "Old-fashioned to a fault, the solidly entertaining Death on the Nile is enlivened by its all-star cast and director-star Kenneth Branagh's obvious affection for the material."
Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 52 out of 100 based on 50 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale, the same as its predecessor, while those at PostTrak gave it a 77% positive score, with 57% saying they would definitely recommend it.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "For some of us who look back with affection on John Guillermin's lush 1978 screen version, there's a nagging feeling throughout that Branagh, while hitting the marks of storytelling and design, has drained some of the fun out of it." Owen Gleiberman of Variety called the film "a moderately diverting dessert that carries you right along. It never transcends the feeling that you're seeing a relic injected with life serum, but that, in a way, is part of its minor-league charm." Edward Porter of The Times gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, saying that its "gaudy style — combined with the melodrama of the script's modified take on Christie's plot — remains diverting even if some of the supposedly Egyptian backdrops look phoney." Sandra Hall of The Sydney Morning Herald gave the film 4/5 stars, writing: "While the gamble Branagh takes in disinterring Poirot's long-neglected sensitive side may be regarded as sacrilege by some, I think it works. Poirot has a yearning heart."
Wendy Ide of The Observer gave the film 2 out of 5 stars, writing: "The camera whirls giddily, dizzy from the sparkle and spectacle, but not quite able to conceal the fact that this is an empty bauble of a movie." David Fear of Rolling Stone wrote that the film "has its joys and flaws apart from that Armie factor, but it's almost like trying to assess whether the appetizer course could have been slightly undercooked while an elephant stampedes over the whole dinner table." Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote that the film "has pizazz and period style in the same way today's big-brand toothpastes have flavor – artificial ingredients give them a taste that's discernible, but too generic to name."
In a December 2017 interview with the Associated Press, Branagh discussed developing the adaptation of Death on the Nile with the possibility of more films to follow, potentially creating a new "cinematic universe" of Christie films:
In February 2022, Branagh stated that discussions for additional films were ongoing. The filmmaker and star stated that he hopes the film series becomes a franchise of various films including various other characters created by Agatha Christie, including Jane Marple. By March of the same year, 20th Century Studios President Steve Asbell confirmed that a third movie was in development. Branagh will return as director and star, while Michael Green will once again serve as screenwriter. The third film will take place in "post-war Venice"; an adaptation "of one of the lesser-known novels".
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