How many famous people can you fit on a single train? Believe it or not, that isn’t the plot of the upcoming big-screen version of Murder on the Orient Express, but it might as well be.
In the first trailer for the Kenneth Branagh-directed adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1934 detective novel, we’re introduced to the film’s formidable ensemble—a potent mix of high wattage movie stars (Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley) and prestige award magnets (Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe and Branagh himself)—by way of a fancy tracking shot complete with title cards announcing who each of these familiar faces play.
The actual premise of the film is a straightforward whodunit. There’s a murder on an ornate long-distance train and everyone’s a suspect. It’s up to Branagh’s master gumshoe Hercule Proirot to determine which of these eccentrics did the deed. Think Snowpiercer meets Clue but with more scientific deduction than battleaxes.
Also, we should note that you gain a major advantage when you put a lot of stars in your murder movie. Namely, it’s not immediately clear who is the criminal. Like, you immediately gravtitate towards the biggest star. That’s the killer more often than not. So bravo to MOTOE for going the Clue route.
The film’s November 10 release date suggests that the studio is positioning MOTOE as an awards contender (Sidney Lumet’s 1974 version earned six total nominations including a win for Ingrid Bergman). As does the inclusion of Oscar-friendly faces like Dench and Branagh.
But how do you sell an austere European murder mystery to American audiences? Easy. Throw in Johnny Depp, add Daisy Ridley a month before The Last Jedi hits theaters, and end your first trailer with that Imagine Dragons song they use whenever someone makes out on Riverdale.
Watch the first trailer for Murder on The Orient Express below.