We basically assumed Sony would move ahead with an adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire, book two in the three-part Millennium series, at some point. Hints and rumors have surfaced here and there, though David Fincher was hesitant to commit to anything during a recent press day on behalf of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, even though stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara certainly are under contract.

Well, the actors might want to get their passports out, as it appears they’ll be heading back to Sweden soon enough. Deadline now says that the studio will be moving forward on parts two and three of Larsson’s trilogy, with Tattoo screenwriter Steve Zaillian tacking adaptation duties. And that makes sense. While Tattoo can be viewed as a standalone story, there’s really no reason to start down this path of American versions of the popular stories if you aren’t going to finish the series. And while Deadline points out that the $106 million global gross is less than what the studio likely anticipated, Sony still expects to perform well in as-yet-unopened markets and justify the making of the last two films.

But will Fincher return? Deadline says that Sony would like to start filming at the end of 2012, but Fincher has not agreed to anything yet. And in the press conference we attended in New York City, Fincher said he’d likely shoot parts two and three back to back, as they essentially tell one long story that happens to be broken in half.

Yet if Sony’s looking to keep costs down on the sequels in hopes of maximizing its profits, I could see them overlooking the brilliant Fincher for an alternate (read: cheaper) filmmaker. That would be tragic. At the same time, I’m also interested in seeing what innovative projects Fincher might move on to instead, because we’ve already seen Larsson’s Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, and I’m not sure we need Fincher’s attention to detail to make these films work.

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