The Big Picture
- A Haunting in Venice is the third installment of Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot series, which is a departure from the previous movies stylistically and critically.
- The movie is expected to have a soft opening weekend, with projected earnings in the $13 million to $15 million range.
- Reviews for the film have been more positive than previous entries in the series, with a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Arguably among the unlikeliest contemporary franchises from a major studio, director Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot series of mystery movies is back this week with its third installment, A Haunting in Venice, which marks a bit of a departure from the norm, both stylistically and critically. The movie opened for previews on Thursday, grossing $1.2 million at the domestic box office. A Haunting in Venice is set to expand to over 3,500 domestic theaters today.
This puts the movie on track for a soft opening weekend in the $13 million and $15 million range. The franchise experienced a significant downgrade with its second installment, Death on the Nile, which opened at a more precarious time during the pandemic and grossed a very similar $12.8 million in its opening weekend. Budgeted at a hefty $90 million, Death on the Nile tapped out with just $45 million domestically and under $140 million worldwide. 20th Century Studios kept costs on a leash this time around; A Haunting in Venice was produced on a reported budget of $60 million.
The series began in 2017, with the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express, which opened to $28 million but legged it to more than $100 million domestically and $350 million worldwide. Each movie in the trilogy has been directed by Branagh, who also stars as the famed Belgian detective Poirot, created by the legendary author Agatha Christie. But while the first two movies were based on two of the most popular Poirot novels, Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green went in a different direction with the third film.
Not only is A Haunting in Venice more of a supernatural thriller as compared to the old-fashioned murder mystery charms of both Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile, it’s also more restrained in its scope, and is based on a lesser-known and previously unadapted (for the big screen) source novel: “Hallowe’en Party.” The movie adaptation transports the action from England to Italy, and is set a decade after the events of Death on the Nile. Now retired, Poirot is summoned to action when a guest at a séance he was invited to ends up dead.
Will the Film’s Positive Reviews Work in its Favor?
Reviews for the movie have been more encouraging than usual for the series. A Haunting in Venice currently sits at a “fresh” 77% score on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes — both Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile scored a 61% approval rating. Collider’s Emma Kiely wrote that the film “fails to get to the root of the horror that pervades this mystery, and a bizarre moment during the climax only adds to the confusion.”
A Haunting in Venice also features Academy Award winner Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey, Jamie Dornan, Kyle Allen, Camille Cottin and others. Last weekend’s number one film, The Nun II, will slip to the second spot this weekend, while The Equalizer 3, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 and Barbie are expected to fill out the remaining slots in the top five. Stay tuned to Collider for more updates!