It wasn’t that long ago — only four years, in fact — that we cared a lot about who would play Lisbeth Salander, the punk hacker heroine of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, in David Fincher’s American adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
When the movie, starring Rooney Mara as Salander and Daniel Craig as investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist, was eventually released in December 2011, it did fine — and Mara even earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Fincher’s 160-minute film was unsparing in its violence, especially during the harrowing rape scene featured in the book (and in the Swedish version of the film as well), and its R-rating was not given lightly. Perhaps as a result, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo fell short of the outsized economic expectations for what was meant to be a three-movie franchise. According to Box Office Mojo, it brought in $102 million domestically and another $130 million internationally. (Its production budget was reportedly $90 million.)
Nevertheless, in the weeks after its holiday release, Sony, the studio behind the films, said that it was going to move forward with both The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
But according to a source close to the film, the franchise is not currently a priority at Sony, though there are still ongoing discussions about it. A spokeswoman from Sony declined to comment.
Millennium series fans, I believe it is time we face the fact that it is extremely unlikely that either or both sequels will ever be made. Especially with the cast from the first movie. Sony has an option on the Larsson books until December 2015, at which point the rights would go back to the books’ publisher and the author’s famously contested estate. (Larsson died in 2004 at age 50.) But it’s not for lack of trying that sequels haven’t gone forward: Steve Zaillian, the screenwriter who adapted The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, also adapted The Girl Who Played With Fire, and last summer IndieWire reported that Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven) was rewriting it. There were also reports that Craig would be cut out of the sequel to save money, and that it would primarily be Salander’s story, which would be strange, considering that the hard-to-adapt second book — because the two main characters barely appear together — focuses more on Blomkvist.
Though the Swedish versions of the three books were international hits (and made Noomi Rapace, who went on to star in the Sherlock Holmes franchise and Prometheus, a sought-after actress), the source material was never going to be easy to translate for American audiences. Only the first of Larsson’s novels has a contained mystery; the second and third books delve into a sprawling conspiracy with Salander at its locus, involving sex trafficking, government corruption, misogyny, hacking, and the purchase of IKEA furniture. They are delightful. But difficult.
Nevertheless, had The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo made a billion dollars, I would imagine there would be impetus to figure out this puzzle. When asked by ScreenRant last year whether she thought she would be playing Salander again, Mara said: “I hope that they make the second one. I’m just not sure when they’re going to. I mean, I hope they make it soon, because I’m not getting any younger.”
None of us is, Rooney!