SILVER SPRING, Md., Dec. 19, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- After a highly competitive bidding process, Fox has acquired film rights to the iconic mystery novel "Murder on the Orient Express" from Acorn Productions Ltd/Agatha Christie Ltd, the UK based rights holding production arm of RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq:RLJE). With more than two billion books sold, Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, and "Murder on the Orient Express"is one of her most popular novels. The 1934 novel features her internationally renowned detective, Hercule Poirot, investigating a murder on the Orient Express. Though no decision on writers or casting have been confirmed yet, Ridley Scott ( Black Hawk Down, Gladiator) , Mark Gordon ( Saving Private Ryan) and Simon Kinberg ( X-Men: First Class, Sherlock Holmes) will be producing the film. Miguel Penella, CEO of RLJ Entertainment, said, "Since acquiring a majority share of Agatha Christie's literary estate in February 2012, we have worked closely with Mathew Prichard, Agatha's grandson, to find the right studio and filmmakers to grow the Christie brand. We are excited to be working with Fox as well as Ridley Scott, Mark Gordon and Simon Kinberg to produce a new, star-studded adaptation of one of the most well-known mystery novels of all time." Founded by Robert L. Johnson, RLJ Entertainment owns a 64% share in Agatha Christie Ltd, which manages Christie's extensive literary works including more than 80 novels and short story collections, 19 plays, a film library of nearly 40 TV films, and iconic characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Agatha Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, is Chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd. "Murder on the Orient Express" was previously made into a 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet. The film received six Oscar nominations, including best actor for Albert Finney as Poirot, and winning best supporting actress for Ingrid Bergman . The all-star cast of suspects also featured Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Bisset, Colin Blakely, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave and Michael York. Additionally, David Suchet portrayed the popular Belgian detective in all 70 television adaptations of Christie's Poirot stories, including "Murder on the Orient Express" in 2010. The final five Poirot television mysteries aired in the U.K. in 2013 and will debut in the U.S. in 2014. In Sept. 2013, Agatha Christie Ltd and RLJ Entertainment announced the first fully-authorized new Agatha Christie novel to be released in September 2014. Bestselling author Sophie Hannah is writing the novel featuring Hercule Poirot.
Hilary Strong, Managing Director of Acorn Productions, and WME negotiated the deal for RLJ Entertainment.RLJ Entertainment, Inc. (Nasdaq:RLJE) is a premier independent licensee and distributor of entertainment content and programming in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia with over 5,300 exclusive titles. RLJE is a leader in numerous genres via its owned and distributed brands such as Acorn (British TV), Image (feature films, stand-up comedy), One Village (urban), Acacia (fitness), Slingshot (faith), Athena (documentaries), Criterion (art films) and Madacy (gift sets). These titles are distributed in multiple formats including DVD, Blu-Ray, digital download, digital streaming, broadcast television (including satellite and cable), theatrical and non-theatrical. Via its relationship with Agatha Christie Limited, a company that RLJE owns 64% of, RLJE manages the intellectual property and publishing rights to some of the greatest works of mystery fiction, including stories of the iconic sleuths Miss Marple and Poirot. And through its direct-to-consumer business, RLJE has direct contacts and billing relationships with millions of consumers. RLJE leverages its management experience to acquire, distribute and monetize existing and original content for its many distribution channels, including its nascent branded digital subscription channels, and engages distinct audiences with programming that appeals directly to their unique viewing interests. RLJE has proprietary e-commerce web sites for the Acorn and Acacia brands, and owns the recently launched Acorn TV digital subscription service. Acorn Productions Ltd is the UK based rights holding production arm of RLJ Entertainment, Inc (Nasdaq:RLJE) a premier independent licensee and distributor of entertainment content and programming in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia with over 5,300 exclusive titles. Acorn Productions Ltd manages the rights to Foyle's War and the Agatha Christie estate. Agatha Christie is known throughout the world as the Queen of Crime. Her books have sold over a billion copies in English with another billion in foreign languages. She is the most widely published author of all time and is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. She is the author of 80 crime novels and short story collections, 19 plays, and six novels written under the name Mary Westmacott. Agatha Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written towards the end of the First World War, in which she served the VAD. In it she created Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian detective who was destined to become the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. It was eventually published by Bodley Head in 1920. In 1926, after averaging a book a year, Agatha Christie wrote her first masterpiece . The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first of her books to be published by Collins and marked the beginning of an author-publisher relationship that lasted for 50 years and well over 70 books, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was also the first of Agatha Christie's books to be dramatized – under the name Alibi – and to have a successful run in London's West End. The Mousetrap, her most successful play of all, opened in 1952 and is the longest-running play in history. Agatha Christie was made a dame in 1971. She died in 1976.
CONTACT: Press Contact: RLJ Entertainment, Chad Campbell, 301.608.2115 *138, ccampbell@RLJEntertainment.com