What recieves no credit for a movie’s success is the fact that the commercial success of a movie depends on which other releases it has to compete with. I don’t agree that there is audience for all kinds of movies, so the success of one movie doesn’t come at the expense of another. Movies catering to similar taste buds always snatch audience from each other to succeed commercially. How many viewers a movie is able to snatch may vary from movie to movie.
The only exception to this rule is detective movies, especially those with famous detectives and authors behind them. My belief was confirmed when I watched Murder on the Orient Express based on an Agatha Christie novel by the same name – on a night show and found the hall packed to capacity.
A murder has happened on a train and Hercule Poirot is looking for the killer only to find that all the passengers on the Orient Express have collectively murdered the person, a man who kidnaped and then killed a child some years ago which in various ways affected and altered the lives of all the passengers who have boarded the Orient Express to avenge the murder.
The problem with a literary detective character which has spawned numerous movie adoptions is that you have to convey your interpretation of the character to the audience very clearly without any shread of doubt, so that when the pecularities recur the audiences can immediatly spot them and react collectively unlike with slightly more literary characters which allow wider or open-ended interpretation.
The movie A Murder on the Orient Express does that right away starting with an investigation by Hercule Poirot where he detects the miscreant behind a theft from an ancient synagogue in Jerusalem by spotting on a fresco an imperfection, a cleft made by a pointed shoe. The style of investigation and a few scenes preceding it convey to the audience the personality traits and idiosyncrasies of the sleuth: a maniacal quest for perfection.
Orient has many more gems. The story has a large canvas – with multiple characters – all present together on Orient Express – each one with a backstory. The period – the 1920s – has been created well with the help of political and cultural references, setting and costumes. Kenneth Branagh is convincing as Poirot particularly his accent. Johnny Depp has done an awesome cameo. And all the other characters have contributed to the movie. But what I liked particularly are the references to the prejudices and ethos of the times the story is set in…which lift the movie above an average detective story.