Three Murder Mystery Films With Agatha Christie Character Coming to PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in May

Three murder mystery films, Agatha and the Truth of Murder, Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar and Agatha and the Midnight Murders will be streaming on the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel in May.

In the films, viewers follow what might have happened to the author Agatha Christie, a writer who also happens to investigate real life crimes.

The subscription rate for the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel is $5.99 per month with an Amazon Prime or Prime Video subscription.

Due May 11 is Agatha and the Truth of Murder. In the film, in 1926, with her writing in crisis and her personal life in tatters, a young Agatha Christie decides to solve a real-life murder. With Dean Andrews (“Ashes to Ashes,” “Life on Mars”), Bebe Cave (“Victoria,” “Great Expectations”), Amelia Dell and Ruth Bradley (“In Her Skin,” “Grabbers”) as Agatha Christie.

Coming May 18 is Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar. In the film, set in 1928, bruised from divorce and struggling with fame, Agatha travels to Iraq and finds a web of murder, intrigue and love. With Jonah Hauer-King (A Dog’s Way Home, World on Fire, Little Women) and Lyndsey Marshal (The Hours, Rome, Hereafter) as Agatha Christie.

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Available starting May 25 is Agatha and the Midnight Murders. In the film set in London in 1940, as the Blitz rages and her future is threatened by fallout from the war, Agatha makes the decision to kill off her most famous creation. With Blake Harrison (A Very English Scandal, World on Fire, “The Great”), Jacqueline Boatswain (Bloodborne, London Voodoo), Gina Bramhill (Us, “Sherlock,” “Endeavour”) and Helen Baxendale (Anonymous, “Cold Feet”) as Agatha Christie.

In addition, “Masterpiece: Indian Summers” seasons one and two will be added to the channel in May, as well as a number of international programs from Walter Presents including “Le Monstre,” “1864,” “Crimes of Passion” and “The Nordic Murders.”

Hugh Laurie to Star in BritBox’s Biggest Original Production, Based on Agatha Christie Book

Actor Hugh Laurie and British-themed SVOD service BritBox would seem a perfect pairing. Now, the North American streaming service from BBC Studios and ITV announced that the former “House” star will adapt Agatha Christie mystery, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, into an original three-part miniseries — the service’s its biggest original commission to date.

Laurie will also direct and executive produce the series, which will make its global debut on BritBox in the U.S. and Canada in 2022.

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Hugh Laurie

Produced by Agatha Christie Limited and Mammoth Screen, whose previous collaborations include The ABC Murders, starring John Malkovich, Evans follows the amiable Bobby Jones and his whip-smart friend, socialite Lady Frances Derwent.

On the hunt for a lost golf ball, Jones discovers the crumpled body of a dying man who, with his last breath, gasps the cryptic question of the series’ title. Armed with only a photograph of a beautiful young woman found in the dead man’s pocket, the sleuths embark on a crime-solving adventure and prove surprisingly adept at unearthing clues.

“I can’t overstate how excited we are to bring this new adaptation to life for the BritBox community,” Emily Powers, head of BritBox North America, said in a statement. “Laurie’s writing pays homage to the brilliance of the original Agatha Christie mystery, while adding fresh wit, humor, and creativity that will appeal to all audiences.”

Casting will be announced at a later date. Endeavor Content brokered the commission and will handle International sales outside of the U.K., Ireland and the Americas.

“Hugh has brought his own inimitable style and flavor to this work, whilst at the same time being faithful to the original,” said James Prichard, CEO of Agatha Christie Limited.

“I loved this book as a nipper and still do. The hairs on the back of my neck haven’t properly settled down from the first time I grasped the beauty of the essential mystery,” said Laurie. “Since then, I have fallen deeper and deeper in love with the characters, and feel immensely honored to have been given the chance to retell their story in this form.”

BritBox has been commissioning original programming since 2017, starting with “The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco,” and most recently announced “Hope Street,” a new cozy crime series. In addition, the service showcases a substantial slate of co-productions, including “The Pembrokeshire Murders,” starring Luke Evans; “Honour,” starring Keeley Hawes; and “There She Goes,” starring David Tennant.

BritBox Touts Agatha Christie Content as Rival Collects License Revenue

BritBox, the British-themed SVOD service operating in North America and the United Kingdom and co-owned by the BBC and ITV, has secured rights to what it says is the largest collection of Agatha Christie-themed content.

Rights include myriad seasons of “Poirot,” “Marple,” “Partners in Crime” and “Poirot: Mysterious Affair at Styles,” which bowed May 15 in honor of the 100th anniversary of Christie’s first novel.

“Only BritBox could create this Agatha Christie collection — working together with BBC and ITV to bring together all of these celebrated adaptations,” Soumya Sriraman, CEO of BritBox, said in a statement. “As the home of great British mysteries, we couldn’t be more proud to be the true home of the most beloved portrayals of Christie’s famous characters.”

BritBox is releasing Christie-themed adaptations including, “Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?” and “The Seven Dials Mystery,” featuring Sir John Gielgud, in addition to “The Secret Adversary.”

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“I am delighted to see all these shows available in North America on BritBox,” said James Prichard, CEO and chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd. (ACL). “They give a real flavor of the depth and quality of my great grandmother’s work, and I am sure audiences will enjoy them.”

Interestingly, AMC Networks, which owns and operates rival British-themed streaming service Acorn TV, is the majority (64%) stakeholder in Agatha Christie Ltd. AMC reported $6 million operating income from ACL in 2019.

Acorn TV launched in the United Kingdom in Q1 — nine years after bowing in the United States as an alternative to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The company expects to generate upwards of 4 million combined paid subscribers for its four SVOD services, which include Shudder, Sundance Now and UMC (Urban Movie Channel) by the end of the year.

RLJ Entertainment Posts $5 Million Q4 Operating Loss

AMC Networks subsidiary RLJ Entertainment posted a fourth-quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2018) operating loss of $5 million on revenue of $28 million. The home entertainment unit generated net income of $3.8 million on revenue of $32.7 million during the previous-year period as a separate publicly traded company.

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AMC acquired controlling interest in RLJE from BET founder Robert L. Johnson last October for $59 million – largely for its Acorn TV SVOD service and majority stake in Agatha Christie Limited. AMC reported adjusted operating income $3 million for Agatha Christie Limited during the quarter.

Indeed, Amazon Prime Video and BBC One in the United Kingdom adapted Agatha Christie’s “The ABC Murders” into an eponymous mini-series  currently streaming and starring John Malkovich as detective Hercule Poirot.

AMC said its “international and other” business segment — which includes RLJE – increased fourth quarter revenue 48.6% to $188 million, while upping operating loss $29 million to $48 million. Adjusted operating income increased 43.9% to $9 million, all compared to the prior-year period.

“The strength of our balance sheet allows us to continue to pursue smart and strategic investments that are changing our business, including our acquisition last year of RLJ Entertainment, which is meaningfully advancing our direct-to-consumer interests, a key priority as we continue to diversify our revenue and grow our business,” Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, AMC, which airs three of the top six dramas on ad-supported cable – “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” and “Better Call Saul” – reported Q4 net income of $71.8 million on revenue of $773 million. That compared to income of $145.5 million on revenue of $727 million last year.

For the fiscal year, AMC generated income of $446 million on revenue of nearly $3 billion, which compared to income of $471 million and revenue of $2.8 billion in 2017.

Book Retailer Marketing Companion Titles for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Original Shows

If you can’t beat subscription streaming, join over-the-top video.

Books-A-Million, the Birmingham, Ala.-based chain of 200 bookstores, has issued a list of companion books to favorite Netflix, Hulu and other streaming titles. This list complements popular TV shows and movie titles, including “You,” “Stranger Things,” Bird Box, “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up,” among others.

“Think of the book as the uncut version of the movie or TV series – there is better character development, the plot is deeper, the blanks are filled in, there may be an alternate ending and there might be a sequel,” Margaret Terwey, senior buyer for Books-A-Million, said in a statement. “That’s why we think the book is better and why we encourage our customers to simultaneously stream and read.”

Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds: The First Official Stranger Things Novel ($28) by Gwenda Bond is a brand-new prequel providing readers with secrets and the background of Eleven’s mother.

Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders ($14.99) inspired the Amazon Prime series, which sets main character Hercule Poirot on the trail of an alphabetical serial killer.

You ($17) by Caroline Kepnes prompted the popular Netflix series about a young man who meets a woman and becomes obsessed with being her perfect partner, removing any obstacles in his way.

Josh Malerman’s Bird Box ($15.99) is a hit Netflix film (80 million viewers) about a post-apocalyptic world in which a monster lives, and anyone who sees the mysterious force is driven to deadly violence.

Decluttering guru and Netflix star Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up ($18.99) has revolutionized homes and lives across the world, and fanatics can go even further with her book featuring step-by-step illustrations.

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From the host of the television series and podcast “MeatEater,” The Meateater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler ($35) by Steven Rinella is a guide to cooking wild game, featuring more than 100 new recipes.

Now on Netflix, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking ($37.50) by Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton is an ambitious new approach to cooking by mastering the use of the four title elements.

The Game of Thrones prequel by George R. R. Martin, Fire and Blood – 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones ($35), helps readers dive deeper into the history of the Targaryens.

Available in paperback in April 2019, The One ($15.99) by John Marrs explores a company that promises to match people up with their soulmates via DNA testing.

Finally, fans of the movies that are streaming on Hulu and anyone anticipating the upcoming Amazon Prime Video original series will want The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings: Deluxe Pocket Boxed Set ($49.95), a four-volume set containing The Hobbit and the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings.

 

AMC Networks Completes Acquisition of RLJ Entertainment

AMC Networks Nov. 1 announced it completed the acquisition of home entertainment distributor RLJ Entertainment, after the latter’s stockholders approved the transaction at a special meeting on Oct. 31.

AMC Networks acquired all of the shares of common stock of RLJE not owned by founder and namesake Robert L. Johnson, for about $59 million in cash.  RLJ Entertainment is now a privately-owned subsidiary of AMC Networks, with Johnson and his affiliates owning a stake of 17%.

RLJE operates two subscription streaming services with about 1 million combined subscribers: Acorn TV, known for its British and international mysteries and dramas; and UMC, which offers films, documentaries, original series and comedy for African-American and urban audiences.

The growth of Acorn TV has been driven by the current release of “A Place to Call Home.” Other pending original programs include, “Agatha Raisin,” “Queens of Mystery” and “London Kills.” UMC original series include “Monogamy” and “5th Ward.”  Recent releases from RLJE Films include MandyArizona and Galveston.

“Our businesses each serve unique audiences and have a strong connection to their viewers,” Miguel Penella, CEO of RLJ Entertainment, said in a statement. “”AMC Networks has been an ideal partner as we developed Acorn TV and UMC for their respective audiences.”

In addition, RLJE owns a majority stake in Agatha Christie Ltd., a popular IP franchise. Last year’s 20st Century Fox Kenneth Branagh-directed adaptation of Murder on the Orient Expressgrossed more than $350 million in worldwide box office. It sold more than $9 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units from 20thCentury Fox Home Entertainment.

Forthcoming adaptations include Fox’s Death on the Nilesequel as well as the BBC’s recent multi-show deal with Agatha Christie Productions for seven dramas based on the author’s works.

“This acquisition furthers AMC Networks’ direct-to-consumer strategy and accelerates our interests in subscription video-on-demand services that we own and control,” said Josh Sapan, CEO of AMC Networks.