20th Century Fox announced the project in December 2013. Michael Green wrote the screenplay for a new film adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express. On June 16, 2015, it was reported Fox was in talks with Kenneth Branagh to direct.
On November 20, 2015, it was announced that Branagh would direct the film and star in the role of detective Hercule Poirot. On June 10, 2016, it was reported that Angelina Jolie was in early talks to co-star in the film. Variety reported on August 4 that she would not sign on to star, while the studio was looking for other actresses like Charlize Theron. On August 17, Variety reported that Leslie Odom Jr. was in talks to join the cast in an unspecified role. On 6 September, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Tom Bateman had joined the cast as Bouc. On September 29, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Michael Peña, Derek Jacobi, and Lucy Boynton were added to the cast. On October 20, Josh Gad was cast in the film to play Hector MacQueen. On 27 October, Marwan Kenzari joined the cast as the French conductor of the train. On November 11, Penélope Cruz joined the cast in an unspecified role, later revealed to be Pilar Estravados (a Hispanic version of the novel’s Swedish Greta Ohlsson, borrowing the name of a character in Hercule Poirot’s Christmas). On December 5, Sergei Polunin joined the cast in an undisclosed role, later revealed to be the Count Andrenyi. On January 5, 2017, Willem Dafoe joined the cast of the film as an undercover detective. On January 9, Olivia Colman revealed that she had been cast as Princess Dragomiroff’s maid. On January 25, it was revealed that Michael Peña had dropped out of the film and that Manuel Garcia-Rulfo had replaced him as Biniamino Marquez (a Cuban version of the novel’s Italian Antonio Foscarelli).
Principal photography on the film began on November 22, 2016, in the United Kingdom and wrapped in May 2017. It used some of the same 65mm film cameras as Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, which Branagh had acted in shortly before this production. These two were among the very few to be shot on 65mm film since Branagh’s Hamlet in 1996, and the only ones released in 2017.
Murder on the Orient Express was released in the United Kingdom on November 3, 2017 and will be on November 10, 2017 in the United States, by 20th Century Fox. The first look at the film and cast was released on May 3 in an exclusive article by Entertainment Weekly.
In the United States and Canada, Murder on the Orient Express will be released alongside Daddy’s Home 2, and is projected to gross around $20 million from 3,350 theaters in its opening weekend.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 65% based on 97 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Stylish production and an all-star ensemble keep this Murder on the Orient Express from running off the rails, even if it never quite builds up to its classic predecessor’s illustrious head of steam.” On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.
Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B+ and called the film “a lushly old-fashioned adaptation wrapped in a veritable turducken of pearls, monocles, and international movie stars.” Blake Goble of Consequence of Sound said “Handsomely staged, exceptionally well-cast, and reasonably faithful, Branagh has revived Murder on the Orient Express in a highly pleasing fashion.” Trace Thurman of Bloody Disgusting gave the film three and a half skulls and said “For those looking for an involving murder mystery that is respectful of its source material and filled with an all-star cast, look no further than Murder on the Orient Express.” Matt Goldberg of Collider gave the film a B- calling it a “handsomely crafted production” albeit on that “falls apart is at the climax of the film.”
On the negative side, Matthew Jacobs of The Huffington Post was impressed by the cast but ultimately felt “Agatha Christie’s whodunit has no steam.” Peter Travers of Rolling Stone found that there were many dull moments and that the film was a needless remake. Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half stars felt that the film focused too much on Poirot to the detriment of the other characters saying “never let it be said the director misses an opportunity to place his star front and center, unfortunately relegating just about everyone else in the obligatory International All-Star Cast to a paper-thin character with one or at most two defining personality traits.” Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club complained that Branagh’s “erratic direction—more interested in cut glass and overhead shots than in suspicions and uncertainties—bungles both the perfect puzzle logic of the crime and its devious solution.”
In 2015, James Prichard, Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd. and Christie’s great grandson, expressed enthusiasm for sequels, citing the collaboration with Branagh and the production team. In May 2017, Branagh expressed interest in further instalments if the film is a success.