Netflix Creating Original Series Based on Agatha Christie’s ‘The Seven Dials Mystery’

Netflix March 28 announced that The Seven Dials Mystery, written by Agatha Christie, will be developed into an original series this summer.

The series will be penned by Chris Chibnall (“Broadchurch,” “Doctor Who”) and will be executive produced by “The Crown” executive producer Suzanne Mackie of Orchid Pictures and Chris Sussman (“Good Omens”). Chris Sweeney (“The Tourist,” “Back to Life”) will direct.

Orchid Pictures was founded in 2020 by Mackie with the goal of bringing stories from both up-and-coming and award winning writers to the world’s stage. Mackie has since assembled a strong female team to develop a slate of diverse content, including Hannah Campbell and Sophie Loizou (“The Crown”). 

“Agatha Christie’s storytelling has been thrilling mystery lovers for generations but there is still more for us to explore for audiences at Netflix,” Anna Mensah, U.K. content VP at the streamer, said in a statement. 

Christie’s books and licensing are controlled by Agatha Christie Limited, which is majority-owned by AMC Networks, and overseen by James Prichard, the great-grandson of Christie.

“Bundle Brent is one of my great grandmother’s raft of interesting humorous sharp young female characters. To see her brought to life through the words of Chris Chibnall and this production with Orchid Pictures and Netflix is a dream come true,” Prichard, who is also an executive producer on the series, said in a statement. 

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A Haunting in Venice

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/28/23;
20th Century;
Mystery;
Box Office $42.45 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for some strong violence, disturbing images and thematic elements.
Stars Kenneth Branagh, Tina Fey, Kelly Reilly, Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Dornan, Kyle Allen, Jude Hill, Camille Cottin, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Riccardo Scamarcio.

Director Kenneth Branagh’s third film based on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot detective stories blends a bit of horror into the proceedings for an effective Halloween-themed mystery.

The sequel to 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and 2022’s Death on the Nile is loosely based on Christie’s 1969 novel Hallowe’en Party, retaining elements of the basic premise and some of the character names, but relocating the story from England to Italy and reworking much of the plot.  

The film takes place in 1947, 10 years following the events of Nile. Jaded from the events of that film, Poirot (Branagh) has sheltered himself away from the world in Venice, but is coaxed out of retirement by his old friend Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), an author who is basically a stand-in for Christie herself.

Oliver wants help in exposing as a fraud a psychic named Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) who will be conducting a séance at a Halloween party being held at a former orphanage that is rumored to be haunted. The palazzo is now owned by a former opera singer (Kelly Reilly) who has hired Reynolds to contact her daughter, who allegedly committed suicide a year earlier.

After an unnerving sequence of apparent demonic possession, Reynolds begins channeling the daughter’s spirit, claiming she was murdered. With almost everyone in the room on the verge of believing in the supernatural, Poirot vows to uncover Reynolds’ methods. In short order, however, an attempt is made on Poirot’s life, while Reynolds is thrown off a balcony and impaled on a statue.

With a storm preventing the police from arriving until morning, the elements are now in place for a classic murder mystery, as an annoyed Poirot locks everyone inside and vows to solve the case. This in turn rouses the amusement of Ariadne, who is portrayed by Fey as the perfect sassy foil to Poirot’s stuffiness.

As usual, almost everyone involved has a labyrinth of secrets to navigate for Poirot to reach the truth, though his efforts are seemingly complicated by the unsettled spirits of this most creepy of locales.

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The primary extra offered on the Blu-ray and digital versions of A Haunting in Venice is a 26-minute behind-the-scenes featurette that while focusing on the production of the third film also looks back at the first two.

Also included are 11 short but superfluous deleted scenes that run a total of about nine minutes.

‘A Haunting in Venice’ Gets Digital, Hulu Release Oct. 31, With DVD, Blu-ray Coming Nov. 28

A Haunting in Venice, the thriller based on the 1969 Agatha Christie Hallowe’en Party novel, will be released Oct. 31 through digital retailers for purchase only, as well as on the Hulu streaming service. 

A Blu-ray Disc and DVD release from Walt Disney Home Entertainment follows on Nov. 28. The film also will be available to rent digitally on that date.

A Haunting in Venice is set in eerie, post-World War II Venice on All Hallows’ Eve and features the return of the celebrated sleuth, Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh, who also produced and directed. Now retired and living in self-imposed exile, Poirot reluctantly attends a séance at a decaying, haunted palazzo. When one of the guests is murdered, the detective is thrust into a sinister world of shadows and secrets.

The film has grossed more than $40 million in North American theaters, with total global box office earnings of $112 million.

A Haunting in Venice is the third film in Branagh’s “Poirot” trilogy, which also includes 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express and 2022’s Death on the Nile. Branagh stars alongside an ensemble cast that includes Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin, Jamie Dornan, Tina Fey, Jude Hill, Ali Khan, Emma Laird, Kelly Reilly, Riccardo Scamarcio and Michelle Yeoh.

The two other films also will be available to stream on Hulu. All three films will be available for purchase as a bundle through digital retailers, including Prime Video and Vudu.

Murder Is in the Air April 5 With ‘Scream,’ ‘Death on the Nile’ Arriving on Disc

Mystery and horror fans are in for a bloody good time April 5 with the Blu-ray and DVD release of the latest entries from a couple of popular franchises — the new Scream and the latest adaptation of Death on the Nile — while the first season of “CSI: Vegas” arrives on DVD.

Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group releases the fifth entry in the “Scream” franchise on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray April 5. The studio is also releasing the new film and the original 1996 horror flick in a “Scream” two-movie collection on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray. The 2022 Scream film reunites Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, reprising their roles. The story takes place 25 years after a streak of brutal murders shocked the quiet town of Woodsboro as a terrifying new killer resurrects the Ghostface mask. As the deaths mount, Woodsboro’s new targets must seek help from the survivors of the original Ghostface attacks. Only Sidney Prescott (Campbell), former sheriff Dewey Riley (Arquette), and reporter Gale Weathers (Cox) can find a way to stop the killer when everyone is a suspect. The film also stars Melissa Barrera, Mason Gooding, Jenna Ortega, Jack Quaid and Marley Shelton. The film earned $81.6 million at the domestic box office. Read a review here.

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution April 5 releases 20th Century Studios’ Death on the Nile on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed 1937 novel is directed Kenneth Branagh, who also stars as famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, and serves as a sequel to his 2017 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. The cast also includes Tom Bateman as Bouc, Annette Bening as Euphemia Bouc, Russell Brand as Dr. Bessner, Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian, Dawn French as Bowers, Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline de Bellefort, Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne, Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler and Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne. In the film, Poirot’s spectacular Egyptian vacation aboard a river boat becomes a terrifying search for a murderer after a picture-perfect couple’s honeymoon is cut tragically short. The film earned a disappointing $45.4 million at the domestic box office, a far cry from the $102.8 million of its predecessor. However, Death on the Nile also had to contend with several delays due to the pandemic, and in the meantime saw many of its cast members hit by negative press and social media cancellation campaigns. It did earn positive reviews for its performances and spectacle, and a third Branagh adaptation is reportedly already in development. Read a review here.

CBS and Paramount Home Entertainment release CSI: Vegas — Season One on DVD April 5. The continuation of the 2000-15 original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” procedural crime drama stars Jorja Fox and William Peterson reprising their roles as Sara Sidle and Gil Grissom. “CSI: Vegas” follows the team as they return to where it all began, faced with obstacles and trying to keep the city of Las Vegas from disaster. Facing an existential threat that could bring down the entire crime lab and release thousands of convicted killers back onto the neon-lit streets of Vegas, a brilliant new team of investigators led by Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) must enlist the help Gil, Sara and David Hodges (Wallace Langham). This combined force will deploy the latest forensic techniques to do what they do best — follow the evidence — in order to preserve and serve justice in Sin City. The three-disc collection includes all 10 episodes from the first season, plus deleted scenes and three bonus featurettes.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releases season four of the dystopian drama series “The Handmaid’s Tale” on DVD April 5. The Handmaid’s Tale: The Complete Fourth Season includes all 10 episodes of the fourth season. Starring Emmy Award-winning actress Elisabeth Moss (“Top of the Lake,” “Mad Men”), “The Handmaid’s Tale” tells the story of June Osborn (Moss), a handmaid who is one of the caste of women forced into sexual servitude as an attempt to repopulate a devastated world. In season four, June strikes back against Gilead as a fierce rebel leader but the risks she takes bring dangerous new challenges and her quest for justice and revenge threatens to consume her. The series also stars Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Amanda Brugel, Ann Dowd, O-T Fagbenle, Max Minghella, Samira Wiley, Bradley Whitford and Sam Jaeger.

Parallel Mothers, written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar, arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 5 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Actress (Penelope Cruz) and Best Original Score (Alberto Iglesias). In the film, two women, Janis and Ana, coincide in a hospital room where they are going to give birth. Both are single and become pregnant by accident. Janis, middle-aged, doesn’t regret it and she is exultant. The other, Ana, an adolescent, is scared, repentant and traumatized. Janis tries to encourage her while they move like sleepwalkers along hospital corridors. The few words they exchange in these hours will create a very close link between the two, which by chance develops and complicates, and changes their lives in a decisive way.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment April 5 also releases Jockey, a film festival favorite about an aging racehorse rider (Clifton Collins Jr.) and his quest for one last win. The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Collins portrays veteran jockey Silva, who hopes to win one last title for his longtime trainer (Molly Parker), who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years — and injuries — have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion. And the arrival of a young rookie rider (Moises Arias), who claims to be his son, and whom he takes under his wing, further complicates the path to fulfilling his dream. Filmed at a real racetrack in Arizona, and featuring real jockeys, Jockey was an official selection at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, where Collins won a U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Actor. It also was an official selection at the 2021 SCAD Savannah Film Festival, where Collins was honored with a Distinguished Performance Award; the 
2021 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2021 Hamptons International Film Festival, and the 2021 AFI Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award in the Narrative Feature Film category.

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The Pierce Brosnan adventure The King’s Daughter was released for digital purchase April 4 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Gravitas Ventures. In addition to Brosnan, the film features Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, Pablo Schreiber, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Fan Bingbing, William Hurt and Julie Andrews as the narrator. In the film, King Louis XIV’s (Brosnan) quest for immortality leads him to capture a mermaid’s life force, but his immovable will is challenged when his long-hidden illegitimate daughter (Scodelario) forms a bond with the magical creature. It arrives on Blu-ray and DVD April 19.

The horror-thriller The Long Night debuts on Blu-ray and DVD April 5 from Well Go USA Entertainment. In the film, while searching for the parents she never knew, a young woman returns to her childhood stomping grounds with her boyfriend to investigate her family’s whereabouts. Her search takes a bizarre turn when a nightmarish cult looking to fulfill a twisted apocalyptic prophecy arrives to terrorize the couple.  The sophomore feature film from music video director and composer Rich Ragsdale stars Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween I and II), Nolan Gerard Funk (“The Flight Attendant”), Deborah Kara Unger (The Game) and Jeff Fahey (“Lost,” Machete).

Two Japanese Ultraman titles, Ultraseven X: The Complete Series and Superior 8 Ultra Brothers, hit Blu-ray Disc April 5 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Superior 8 Ultra Brothers unites three generations of Ultra Heroes for an interdimensional adventure. The story begins in 1966 as three boys named Daigo, Asuka, and Gamu watch the premiere of a new television series called Ultraman. Captivated from the start, they continue to follow and be inspired by the ongoing exploits of Ultraman and his fellow Ultra Brothers.  Decades later, Daigo is working for the tourism board in Yokohama when he witnesses a strange mirage of a dying world ravaged by giant monsters.  Additional visions soon follow, including one in which the friendly shopkeepers Hayata, Dan, Goh and Hokuto transform into the famous Ultra Brothers from TV. Daigo confides in Asuka and Gamu, who begin to have similar dreams in which they become Ultramen called “Dyna” and “Gaia.” The sudden appearance of Monster Guesra and the hero Ultraman Mebius convince Daigo that his visions are coming true, and his world is in great danger.

In Ultraseven X: The Complete Series, available on Blu-ray and digital, a young man is awoken from a fevered dream and barely recognizes himself. A mysterious woman hands him a spectacles-shaped item, says the key holds tremendous power, and tells him it is his duty to save the world. Before asking any more questions, he and the woman are torn apart by a violent explosion. Soon, he is contacted by a secret organization named Deus. He is told he is Agent Jin and his job is to rid this world of vicious alien invaders.

Independent film distributor 1091 Pictures April 5 releases through digital retailers On the Trail of UFOs: Night Visitors, a documentary from Small Town Monsters that investigates a series of cattle mutilations that have occurred at the Miller Ranch in Southern Colorado since 1999. On the Trail of UFOs: Night Visitors follows investigator Shannon LeGrow (host of the “Into the Fray” podcast) as he visits the Miller Ranch in Southern Colorado, where the property owner claims to have lost 16 cattle in ways that truly defy logic. They find an unusual amount of activity, from odd lights seen in the air and on the ground, to unusual sounds, enigmatic government black helicopters, and even specific parts of the property that seemed to invite deadly accidents. At the heart of all this activity was a series of cattle mutilations that truly call into question what we think we know about the topic of aliens and UFOs. Directed and produced by Seth Breedlove, the documentary is a follow-up to the 2020 miniseries On the Trail of UFOs, and 2021’s On The Trail of UFOs: Dark Sky.

On the streaming side of things, April 5 sees the premiere of the new 4K restoration of Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut exclusively on streaming service Paramount+ on April 5. The 1979 theatrical cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture was considered by many fans to be an incomplete film due to a string of production problems, as due to an ironclad release date it was rushed to theaters with incomplete visual effects and forced editing choices, clocking in at 131 minutes. Many critics felt the film’s pace was slow and ponderous. A 1983 television edit for ABC added 12 minutes of deleted scenes back into the film. In 2001, director Robert Wise revisited the film to refine the edit and enhance the visual effects with CGI. His updated vision, coming in at 136 minutes, was released on DVD in standard-definition, but has never been available in high-definition until now, as the new visual effects had to be re-rendered in 4K. Read a review here.

Fans will also have the opportunity to see the remastered Star Trek: The Motion Picture — The Director’s Cut on the big screen when Fathom Events and Paramount Pictures bring it to theaters for an exclusive two-day event May 22 and May 25. Tickets will go on sale Friday, April 8 at FathomEvents.com. The director’s cut will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in September.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

Death on the Nile (2022)

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 4/5/22;
20th Century;
Mystery;
Box Office $45.43 million;
$29.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $43.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence, some bloody images, and sexual material.
Stars Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Emma Mackey, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening, Russell Brand, Ali Fazal, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Sophie Okonedo, Letitia Wright.

The end of the 2017 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express featured famed fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) summoned to Egypt to handle another murder case, seemingly teasing Christie’s Death on the Nile as a potential sequel.

Well, Branagh does return as Poirot and as director for Death on the Nile, but it ends up not following up on that tease. Instead, it’s three years later, 1937 (the year Christie released Nile, incidentally), and Poirot is mentioned as having solved that case in Egypt, which ends up being unrelated to the new storyline.

After beginning with a flashback to World War I that depicts an origin story for Poirot’s famous mustache, the film finds the detective returning to Egypt for a bit of a vacation, where he ends up as a guest to the wedding party of Linnet and Simon (Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer). The couple have invited some friends on a swanky cruise down the Nile, and enlist the aid of Poirot in keeping an eye on Jackie (Emma Mackey), Simon’s former fiancée who has taken to stalking the couple out of jealous rage for being spurned for the wealthier Linnet.

When a string of murders do take place onboard the ship, Poirot is hard-pressed to stop them, though he is keen on solving them, which does beg the question of why the killers insist on continuing with their plans even knowing that a world-class sleuth is accompanying them and he always solves the case. Maybe they’re just masochistic for the challenge of stumping him.

Anyway, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green have tweaked the source material a bit to give the story a more modern feel despite its period setting, swapping the race and gender of a few characters, such as making the romance novelist character from the book into a touring jazz singer and budding love interest for Poirot.

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Beautifully shot and visually exquisite on HD and Ultra HD displays, Branagh imbues the film with an impeccable sense of style, staying true to the spirit of the original novel while peaking behind the mustache at what makes Poirot tick.

The Blu-ray includes nearly 40 minutes of behind-the scenes featurettes that offer some good insights into the making of the film. The 15-and-a-half-minute “Death on the Nile: Novel to Film” examines the collaboration between the filmmakers and Christie’s estate to bring the latest adaptation of her book to life, while the six-minute “Agatha Christie: Travel Can Be Murder” takes a look at some of Christie’s inspirations for setting the book in Egypt. “Design on the Nile” is an 11-minute featurette about the creation of the costumes and sets for the film, highlighted by a tour of the river yacht at the center of the story. The five-and-a-half-minute “Branagh/Poirot” focuses on Branagh’s talents as a director while also starring in the film.

Rounding out the extras are eight deleted scenes that are pretty interesting and run about 10 minutes in total.

Disney Sets Home Release Dates for ‘Death on the Nile’

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution has set home release dates for Death on the Nile, director Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed 1937 novel.

The murder mystery, which grossed a disappointing $41 million in North American theaters, will be released through digital retailers on March 29, the same day it begins streaming on HBO Max and Hulu, followed by an April 5 release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray Disc and DVD.

Death on the Nile has been praised by critics for its cinematography,  storytelling and ensemble cast that includes Branagh as Hercule Poirot, Tom Bateman as Bouc, Annette Bening as Euphemia Bouc, Russell Brand as Dr. Bessner, Ali Fazal as Andrew Katchadourian, Dawn French as Bowers, Gal Gadot as Linnet Ridgeway Doyle, Armie Hammer as Simon Doyle, Rose Leslie as Louise Bourget, Emma Mackey as Jacqueline de Bellefort, Sophie Okonedo as Salome Otterbourne, Jennifer Saunders as Marie Van Schuyler and Letitia Wright as Rosalie Otterbourne.

In the film, Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot’s spectacular Egyptian vacation aboard a river boat becomes a terrifying search for a murderer after a picture-perfect couple’s honeymoon is cut tragically short. 

Bonus content on the home editions include four documentaries, including one on the making of the film, and deleted scenes, although Disney cautions bonus features will vary by product and retailer.

 

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.