With around two billion books sold under the name of Agatha Christie, the British crime writer and playwright, who died in 1976, is said to be the most widely read author of all time, second only to Shakespeare. Her play The Mousetrap opened in London's West End in 1952 and is still the longest-running play in history. Known for her ingenious murder plots and three dimensional characters, Dame Christie has enjoyed the good fortune of having almost all her books made into motion pictures at one point or another. And with the news of several upcoming Christie projects, it seems as if that trend is only gathering speed.
Christie's TV Dominance — Thanks To The BBC
After last year's very successful three-part miniseries And Then There Were None, the BBC has decided to continue the tradition by releasing a new Christie adaptation every year for at least seven more years. Some of these titles include Death on the Nile, Ordeal by Innocence, and this year's series The Witness for the Prosecution.
The TV adaptation of And Then There Were None proved why the book is the top-selling murder mystery of all time, as not only was it a hit among viewers (bringing in around eight million for its premiere), but it also received high critical praise. Check out the trailer below:
After all, TV has always been the medium for a good murder mystery. Whether it's the classic Twin Peaks or this year's breakout hit The Night Of, ratings always remain strong when somebody gets murdered, and BBC is hoping that this will be the case for several years to come.
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Upcoming Movies About The Dame
A surprisingly large number of Christie-related projects have been green-lit by various production houses. Among them is an autobiographical movie — simply titled Agatha — based on 11 days in which the writer went missing in December, 1926. A movie with the same name and focusing on the same events was released in 1979, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Dustin Hoffman. Not much is known about this Paramount Picture film, except that Emma Stone has been tapped to take the lead.
Another upcoming biopic courtesy of Sony will examine Christie in the time of the early feminist movement, with Academy Award-winning Alicia Vikander currently being eyed for the top spot.
And What Of Her Books?
There are three upcoming movies of Christie's written works. First up is the Kenneth Branagh feature film based on her 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express. Branagh will direct and star as the famed fictional Belgian private detective Hercule Poirot. While rumors had begun circulating last year that Angelina Jolie was in early talks to star, her name has since been replaced on the grapevine by Charlize Theron. So far the confirmed list is pretty scant, with only Jekyll and Hyde's Tom Bateman making the on-screen cut. Produced by Ridley Scott, Simon Kinberg, Mark Gordon and Branagh, the Fox Studio film is set for release in November 2017.
The second addition to the roster of works is Gilles Paquet-Brenner's upcoming Crooked House, based on the Christie novel of the same name. With a screenplay by Downtown Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, the film is currently in production and stars a topnotch cast that includes Gillian Anderson, Christina Hendricks, Terence Stamp and Glenn Close.
And busy boy that he is, Ben Affleck is also planning a feature film remake of Witness for the Prosecution, set for release in 2019. With Batfleck once again in the director's chair, the film will center around the intriguing trial of a man accused of murdering a wealthy older woman. His buddy Matt Damon will produce this film.
So Why Does Hollywood's Christie Craze Endure?
If you're wondering why there's a sudden buzz surrounding this prolific author, you must understand that this isn't something new, but rather something that's been happening continuously ever since the writer first put pen to paper. With more than 70 films in different languages based on her works and TV shows produce in all corners of the world, Christie has remained evergreen and current. No other writer has been able to dethrone the dame from where she sits, and whenever there's a good Agatha Christie film, viewers tend to flock to it.
Indeed, the 1974 Sidney Lumet film Murder on the Orient Express earned more than $36 million at the box office, which was a big deal at the time. Then there's the pedigree. The same film earned six nominations at the 1975 Academy Awards, with Ingrid Bergman taking the golden statuette for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Similar was the case for Billy Wilder's 1957 movie Witness for the Prosecution, which also earned six Academy nominations.
Her Influence Still Permeates
And if you're still thinking, "So why now?" then let's recap the hits on TV and film from the last couple of years. We had the Oscar-nominated and commercially successful Gone Girl, which was clearly a homage to Christie. Then we had Making a Murderer, an American murder mystery obsession that played out in real time. Christie's own And Then There Were None and this year's stellar The Night Of, created by Richard Price and Steven Zaillian, managed to bring loads of viewers. And the presence of Christie could be felt across an array of whodunits including The Killing, Broadchurch and How To Get Away With Murder.
Agatha Christie's work is timeless. Her grounded characters, jaw-dropping twists and mind-boggling riddles have ensured that the writer will remain as popular as ever, and this new wave of adaptations only proves that, 40 years on from her death, Christie is more relevant than ever.