Amazon's Latest Agatha Christie Adaptation Has Upset Some Purists
In July 2017, Amazon announced a major deal with Agatha Christie Limited that would bring a multitude of series adapted from the author's classic mysteries to its streaming platform, according to Variety. The first of the batch was a three-part adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence, which was produced by Mammoth Screen in the U.K. and debuted on BBC One before landing on Prime Video. Next up is another three-parter launched by the same team in which Hercule Poirot receives a series of eery, threatening letters signed only with the initials "ABC." As of right now, it's unclear if The ABC Murders will return for Season 2, or if Amazon will move onto the next Christie adaptation instead.
“We are thrilled to bring to our slate these adaptations from the world’s greatest mystery writer,” said Morgan Wandell, Amazon Studios’ head of international series in a press release. “With terrific talent, in front of and behind the camera, they are sure to delight our customers.”
The 2017 announcement did not disclaim the exact number of stories Prime Video subscribers can expect. However, in August 2016, BBC One announced that the network will be hosting a total of seven, revealing only three of those titles: Ordeal by Innocence (check!), The ABC Murders (check!), and on Dec. 28, The Radio Times reported that Death Comes As The End is next.
The publication reported that, like the two that came before it, it is also expected to be a three-part drama. The publication also could not confirm or deny whether the series can be expected to air around the same time of year The ABC Murders did on BBC, which was near the 2018 Christmas holiday. However, there is an incomplete IMDb profile for a 2019 production with the same title, detailing three episodes, so a BBC premiere this year looks promising.
Although it's pretty certain that Death Comes As The End will find itself on BBC One in the near future, Amazon has yet to officially claim it for U.S. viewers. But, on Dec. 27, Deadline reported that The ABC Murders is number two of three "dramatic series adaptations from Agatha Christie Limited for Prime Video in the US." So Death Comes As The End seems like an obvious number three. The Radio Times also reported that Sarah Phelps, screen writer of the first two, will not write the upcoming adaptation. The ancient Egyptian tale will instead be adapted by Vanity Fair writer Gwyneth Hughes.
“Sarah is not ‘stepping aside’ from Agatha Christie,” BBC reassured the publication. “In fact [production company] Mammoth Screen is currently in discussion with Sarah about her next 20th century-set title that she will tackle.”
John Malkovich, who plays The ABC Murders' titular Poirot, told TVInsider he was inclined to accept the role because of Phelps' profound past work on Christie-inspired films. "I decided to do this partly because of her previous work," he said. "They sent me them. She makes the books lifelike."
British press and viewers far and wide were skeptical at first of the decision to cast Malkovich for a role in which his physical attributes aren't represented by the writing. But, after the show premiered in the U.K. in December, that apprehension was put to rest.
"[Phelps] indicated a certain look for him in the scripts," Malkovich said. "But it also meant that we would’ve needed to work on various wigs and make everything in short order to be ready to shoot last summer. The director, Alex Gabassi, said no to this. He’d seen a photo of me on the web a couple days before, and he wanted me just to use the look that I had already."
To see that look (and a gruff Ron Weasley) in action and temporarily absolve your murder mystery craving, dive into The ABC Murders on Prime Video now.