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Despite being based on a massively popular series of novels, David Fincher’s 2011 adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo underperformed. It still made $232 million worldwide, but expectations were through the roof. Since then, there’s been a great deal of talk about whether or not we’ll see the rest of the novels on screen, but now it looks like Sony has a plan in place.
Hacker heroine Lisbeth Salander will be back on the page later this year, with author David Lagercrantz picking up the mantel of the Millennium series in the wake of Larsson’s death with The Girl in the Spider’s Web. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this new chapter figures into Sony’s strategy for the franchise. The current idea is to combine the second and third books—The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest—into a single film, with Spider’s Web rounding out the cinematic trilogy. As far as this goes, however, there is some dissention in the ranks.
Fincher’s film had a $90 million budget, and the current plan is to make the next two films, including the condensed middle chapter, both without him and for significantly less money. Amy Pascal, the former head of Sony who negotiated the rights to Larsson’s books, and who is a producer on the project, is not a fan of this approach. A big part of her reluctance is the fact that combining the two books nullifies the Steve Zaillian script they already have for Fire, which reportedly cost seven figures.
Another hurdle is whether or not Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, the stars of the first film, will be back. Mara plays the tattooed, pierced, black-wearing computer savant Lisbeth, who helps Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist searching for a woman who has been missing for 40 years. Craig is busy holding up another franchise with James Bond, among other projects (he also reportedly wants a raise), and Mara said, as recently as February, that she doesn’t expect to be back.
Even if the American versions never get off the ground again, there are the Swedish adaptations of Larsson’s three books for fans. There are a great many folks out there who prefer them to Fincher’s film (though this is one of the instances where I actually like the remake more), but they’re largely responsible for showing the world outside of Sweden what Noomi Rapace is capable of.
Whether or not The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo franchise continues is going to be interesting to watch. They can certainly make solid crime thriller for less than $90 million, but without Fincher, and combining two long novels (both hover around 800 pages) into one movie, it feels like there is going to be something missing. I’m not the biggest fan of the books (this is a case where I think the movies are better than the books), but Fincher brought such a slick cool and put his own stamp on the material, it’s hard to imagine anything else being more than a pale imitation. But maybe I’m being pessimistic.