The Covid-19 pandemic has kept movie theaters closed in New York and Los Angeles, and attendance in other locales remains far below normal levels. So it’s no mystery why Disney has delayed the premieres of two major book-to-screen adaptations.

Variety reports that the studio has announced new release dates for Death on the Nile, based on Agatha Christie’s Kirkus-starred 1938 mystery, and Deep Water, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1957 novel. Death on the Nile, directed by Kenneth Branagh, will premiere on Dec. 18 instead of Oct. 23, and Deep Water, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas, is moving from Nov. 13 to Aug. 13, 2021.

Death on the Nile is a follow-up to Branagh’s hugely successful 2017 adaptation of Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (1934), in which he also starred as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. The new release date puts Death on the Nile in direct competition with another book-based blockbuster: the space opera Dune, based on Frank Herbert’s award-winning 1965 SF/fantasy novel.

In Christie’s novel, a vacationing Poirot must solve multiple murders committed on a steamer ship traveling along Egypt’s Nile river. “A sophisticated group, an ingenious plot, clever deduction, swift-paced narrative,” noted Kirkus’ starred review, which called the book “first-rate entertainment.”

Highsmith’s Deep Water is a psychological thriller about a husband who murders his wife’s lovers. “Again the fine detail of dialogue and action pinpoints a portrayal of an imperturbable killer, but without the flair of some of the earlier performances,” wrote Kirkus’ reviewer, apparently referencing the author’s Kirkus-starred novel, The Talented Mr. Ripley, published two years before.

The upcoming film is directed by Adrian Lyne, who’s perhaps best known for 1987’s Fatal Attraction; he also helmed a 1998 film adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s 1958 novel, Lolita.

David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.