Filmmaker and thespian Kenneth Branagh is self-admittedly a champion of remakes … a certain kind of remake that is. As the visionary director and actor behind the most screen adaptations of Shakespeare’s works since Laurence Olivier, Branagh wholeheartedly believes in keeping humanity’s most beloved classics alive by remounting them. Rather than simply cashing in on a sure thing, it at least appears as if Branagh’s inclination towards remakes is more about exposing younger generations to immortal and universal stories through the medium of cinema. That said, it’s debatable whether or not his latest re-visitation, an update of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express for 20th Century Fox, classifies as source material on the level of the Bard or whether it was necessary to update Sidney Lumet’s more-than-competent version from 1974 in the first place. But that’s a separate discussion. 2017’s version has at least provided a unique opportunity for experiencing Christie’s mystery saga on another kind of stage—a real train in the real world.
It’s being called “a 1,000 km, 13-hour, immersive escape room experience on rails, inspired by the film.” Finnish Railways, TBWA Helsinki and InsideOut Escape Games have combined their powers to create an interactive murder mystery filled with movie-inspired puzzles spanning more than a dozen train cabins for an immersive experience that travels across Finland from Helsinki to Rovaniemi. Players looking to channel their inner Hercule Poirot were recruited in an online promotion and joined one of two teams, each of which were led by a celebrity captain, writer Katleena Kortesuo and actor Riku Nieminen. There is also a social media element to this installation as interested parties all over the world have the ability to watch the unfolding mystery by live streaming.
“The Escape Train” effectively promotes Branagh’s film in a way that could prolong its box office shelf life while, in the process, reinventing the somewhat stale “Escape Room” concept that’s now mostly used for corporate team building and small business communication exercises.
“We are a partner of Nordisk Film, the distributor of the film in Finland, and we saw a unique opportunity here to utilize the partnership by bringing it to life,” said Finnish Railways Marketing Manager Outi Lahtinen. “Solving puzzles is an essential part of escape rooms, and that is why this seemed like a good fit.”
“This is a rare opportunity to build a whole new type of game—it taking place on an actual train, with other passengers on board, adds a lot to the dynamics of an escape room experience,” said InsideOut’s Ágnes Kaszás. “To my knowledge, it is the longest-running game ever made, and we are very excited to be able to design it in the spirit of the new hit movie. It’s a dream come true, both for us and the players!”
Check out the promo video below: