While I think the Noomi Rapace starring original The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a bit more visceral, I was rather impressed with David Fincher’s 2011 English language remake starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig (the fact that I’m a gigantic Fincher fanboy obviously had nothing to do with this totally unbiased opinion… Obviously). But while the film was reasonably well received critically, it didn’t quite make enough money for Sony Pictures’ liking. $233 Million worldwide is certainly nothing to sneer at, but when your R-rated movie’s production cost alone is $90 million, then it’s not quite the franchise starter you were hoping for. And indeed, Sony had planned for this to just be the first film, with the cast and crew returning to adapt the rest of late-author Stieg Larrson’ Millenium series of novels.
But due to the just okay profit, the sequel plans stalled. Even a completed screenplay adaptation of “The Girl Who Played With Fire” by big time Moneyball scribe Steve Zaillian could get things moving. Not helping matters much, as that Fincher seemingly got tired of waiting and is no longer interested in returning. And with him gone, Mara – who received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of tough but broken hacker Lisbeth Salander in the first film – doesn’t appear to want to come back either. That just leaves Craig, who has an option in his contract for two more films and is willing to reprise his role as investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, but apparently wants a small mountain in money to do it – not something that the studio can really agree to based on the low returns of the first film. So what is Sony to do, since they don’t want to just abandon a license as lucrative as Larrson’s best selling franchise?
Well, it seems they’re making a sequel. Just not the sequel you would expect. According to THR, Sony has commissioned acclaimed Oscar-winning British scribe/director Steven Knight (Locke, Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things) to adapt The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the recently released, critically acclaimed fourth book in the Millennium series which was not written by Larrson (who actually passed away before the original trilogy was published) but by Swedish crime-writer David Lagercrantz. And with Craig, Mara and Fincher not looking likely to return, the studio is viewing this as a sort of soft reboot for the franchise, with them starting the search for a new Lisbeth Salander among Hollywood’s buzziest up and coming actresses all over again.
In a twist though, Sony plans to still use the script for The Girl Who Played With Fire – unsurprisingly, since they reportedly paid Zaillian a seven-figure fortune for it – but it will be retooled to instead act as a sequel to Spider’s Web. So for those of you following at home, the book numbers being adapted are 1, 4, and then 2. Got it? Here’s the official book synopsis for Spider’s Web from Amazon:
She is the girl with the dragon tattoo—a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.
Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . .
Since Spider’s Web is a sort of standalone story that basically just needs the precedent that Lisbeth and Mikael have worked together previously, this could actually work quite easily without needing too much reworking of the plot. Plus, it has several elements which shed light on Lisbeth’s destructive past, which is of course a huge part of The Girl Who Played With Fire, and thus the two could actually line up pretty well narratively.
Now the question is just who Sony is going to get to direct the film and to replace Mara and Craig. Lisbeth’s tale has some seriously dark and twisted moments – if you’ve seen the original movie with Noomi Rapace, then you’ll know that some of it is downright disturbing to watch – and even a director like David Fincher occasionally smoothed down some of the edges ever so slightly to make it make it more palatable to Hollywood. Time will tell how a new helmer will approach it, and whether he can also give Larrson’s work its due.
UPDATE: Since the original time of writing for this article, The Wrap is now reporting that Ex Machina and Man From U.N.C.L.E. star Alicia Vikander is currently the favourite to take up the role of the volatile Lisbeth Salander. And based on the range of acting she’s shown – and in particular her work in Alex Garland’s sci-fi masterpiece – I think she’s a fantastic choice!
Last Updated: November 6, 2015