Whodunit? Both Sony and Paramount Jockey to Develop Agatha Christie Films

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Agatha Christie

Though Sony is courting Alicia Vikander and Paramount is eyeing Emma Stone, the two studios require approval from the Christie estate before receiving a green light.

Never mind the whodunit. The pressing question is who will make it first?

There are two Agatha Christie films in the works at Sony and Paramount. And no, these aren't projects based on the iconic mystery writer's novels (though there are plenty of those in the the pipeline, including Fox's Murder on the Orient Express). The latest pair of movies — Agatha Christie at Sony and Agatha at Paramount — center on the author during her early career.

Sony is courting Alicia Vikander to play a proto-feminist Christie uninterested in a traditional wife role (instead she intersects with the likes of Sherlock Holmes writer Arthur Conan Doyle and Winston Churchill). Atop Paramount's wish list is Emma Stone to play the British literary sensation, with the story postulating what happened to Christie during the 11 days she went missing in 1926 (she died in 1976 at age 85). Both films would require approval from the Christie estate before receiving a green light. That's no easy task considering it took Fox seven years to gain approval to make Orient Express, which is moving toward a November start (Angelina Jolie is in talks for a significant role).

Since Acorn Media Group took a majority stake in the Christie estate in 2012 and hired WME to rep it, there has been mounting interest in all things relating to the writer. "There was a very complicated legal negotiation behind getting the rights," says Orient Express producer Simon Kinberg. "But Agatha's grandson [Mathew Prichard] was always supportive of our doing it and is so excited now that we have this great script by Michael Green."

This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.