‘Dragon Tattoo’ Sequel Gets a Rewrite; David Fincher’s ‘20,000 Leagues’ is Dead

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:30 pm,

girl played fire movie Dragon Tattoo Sequel Gets a Rewrite; David Finchers 20,000 Leagues is Dead

David Fincher faced a dilemma, after he finished the English-language version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: should be press ahead with the followup, The Girl Who Played with Fire – possibly shooting it back-to-back with the adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s third Millennium novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – or, should he instead pursue another project, like his gestating 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea adaptation over at Disney?

The filmmaker ended up going in another direction altogether, by assisting the Netflix series House of Cards in getting off the ground, following Dragon Tattoo‘s theatrical release. Last we heard, both Girl Who Played with Fire and 20,000 Leagues were in a fluid stage of development (see: spinning their wheels), due to a combination of scheduling issues, financial concerns, and more general creative problems.

Indiewire has been informed by its sources that Andrew Kevin Walker is currently rewriting the previous Girl Who Played with Fire script draft, as was put together by Dragon Tattoo scribe Steve Zaillian. Walker revised the script for Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues adaptation; in addition, he wrote the director’s grisly crime-thriller Se7en back in 1995. The immediate conclusion would be that Walker is fine-tuning the Dragon Tatoo sequel for Fincher to begin shooting in the near future, but there are a few reasons to think that may not happen (more on that later).

One thing we can say for certain, however, is that Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues movie is now dead in the water (pardon the wording).  We heard that the filmmaker’s dark vision of the Jules Verne story was going to receive much-needed financial support from the Australian government, back earlier in 2013 when it seemed the project was close to getting a greenlight. However, multiple factors – casting disagreements, scheduling conflicts, and (most importantly) the $200 million price tag for Fincher’s Avatar-style filmmaking approach – came together to form a perfect storm, which left the tentpole’s start date indefinitely delayed (i.e. pushed back to 2014 at the earliest).

Indiewire has been informed that 20,000 Leagues has essentially been canceled since then, which accounts for why Fincher has formally begun to put together the cast for his Gone Girl adaptation in recent weeks. That comes as little surprise, following hot on the heels of Disney’s failed gamble with The Lone Ranger (a film that cost $215 million to make, yet has only grossed $121 million worldwide so far). Fincher’s 20,000 Leagues was shaping up to be another high-cost investment that would’ve been hard for the Mouse House to sell, given that the film was expected to take a harsh deconstructive approach to the Captain Nemo character and his world (perhaps similar to how Lone Ranger subverts its namesake’s legacy).

Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Dragon Tattoo Sequel Gets a Rewrite; David Finchers 20,000 Leagues is Dead

20,000 Leagues almost certainly would’ve turned out cleaner than Lone Ranger, but after the one-two punch of that western blockbuster and John Carter‘s box office under-performance, it’s safe to say that Disney will be… well, playing it safe for the near-future (re: no more investing in auteur’s visions that aren’t an easy sell). It’s just as well for Fincher, though, who’s had more than his fair share of experience with developing projects that fall apart before the cameras start rolling.

Fincher is now free to make Girl Who Played with Fire after Gone Girl (assuming the latter happens first, as is expected), but there are a few obstacles in his path. For one, production would have to get underway in early 2014, unless Sony is willing to wait until Daniel Craig – who plays Mikael Blomkvist in Fincher’s movies – finishes starring in the 24th James Bond movie (which is scheduled for a Fall 2015 release date).

Sony’s not been interested in rushing the Dragon Tattoo sequel up to now, but it’s getting to the point where either Fincher may have to pass on directing the film or accommodating changes to the story will have to be made (if this sequel is going to happen anytime soon).


We hope to have more information to share about The Girl Who Played with Fire over the forthcoming months, so keep your eyes peeled for additional updates from Screen Rant.

Source: Indiewire

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  1. Bettwr they skip on 20000 leagues.. Seemed like another big budget/low performer. Not that people are really clamoring for Dragon sequels… Fincher needs to really find something good to direct soon, his talents seem wasted as of late.

  2. That’s a real shame. Fincher is a great filmmaker and 20 000 Leagues Under The Sea could have been something special. Maybe someday though…

  3. With or without Fincher gives us more Lisbeth!!!!

    • While I agree and want to see Rooney Mara as LISBETH again, I certainly would hope that Fincher is the guy directing.

      I suppose he could produce….

      It wouldn’t be so much of a commitment if Fincher could somehow direct BOTH installments consecutively ( at the same time ) and then finalize each one in Post Production.

      • I agree, I don’t think the first movie would have been as good without Fincher.

  4. House of Cards is awesome, Fincher should either finish the millennium movies or move on to something new, can’t say I was all that psyched for a leagues movie

  5. Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest,
    the last two books and previous films, could have their storylines
    combined into one film and the material lends itself to that.

    And a more modest budget, perhaps around 75 million,
    is more than enough for a quality production while
    minimizing risk and any hesitation from Sony.

    • I don’t know why people feel this would be a good idea. Unless one is willing to either distill Hornet’s Nest down to a 15min court proceeding or sit through a film whose length is on par with the extended version of any one of the three LotR movies, I can’t see it going over very well or not feeling rushed or contrived (like how they tried to shoehorn The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned into one film).

      I can understand why it does feel like it would work, or at least look like it would on the surface. It is kind of a two part trilogy, but then again most trilogies are.

      • After the difficulties in getting a second film made, unless book two
        and three were shot back to back where now the likelihood of
        that is nil, I would not want the second part of the trilogy
        knowing the third part probably never would be made.

        The film would not have to adhere to everything in
        the last two books to tie together a compelling
        narrative providing a satisfying conclusion.

    • I want to agree with you, as the second and third books aren’t as good as the first IMO, but I just can’t see each film being distilled and still telling their respective stories appropriately

  6. Well, all I have to say about 20,000 Leagues is what a shame it is that it’s been canceled now. Having seen John Carter, I can see why it failed because the characters were one dimensional, the movie went on for way too long and the plot was nothing special at all.

    Can’t speak for The Lone Ranger because it doesn’t release here until August and I had no intention of watching anyway (the benefits of watching the trailers and seeing how bad it looked in 2 minute promo clips, no clue why anyone would see them and decide to waste money on the full movie).

    20,000 Leagues could’ve been amazing though.

    • 20,000 Leagues was the one I really wanted to see made.
      And I think a quality film could be made for less than 200M.
      Disney should look to its past when they did more with less.

  7. I hope he chooses to start filming the Dragon tattoo sequels. The first one was amazing and had great atmosphere. A masterpiece.

    • I don’t know if Fincher’s GWTDT is a “masterpiece” but I DO think it is brilliant and possesses all the traits the he (Fincher) is known for. Dark, atmospheric, violent, etc…

      Rooney Mara does a great Lisbeth ( sorry Noomi Rapace ) and Daniel Craig is also a standout. The entire cast is awesome, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright….

      Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ soundtrack is genius. Jeff Cronenweth’s cinematography is equally masterful.

      I’m really hoping Fincher directs the other two installments.

      Love this flick. Hmmmmmm, maybe it IS a masterpiece.

      • @Kryptonic

        It is pretty hard to find something wrong with the movie… :-)

  8. He apparently didn’t want Hemsworth. Don’t blame him though, if he can envision him as the character.

  9. Well I for one wouldn’t mind if either 20,000 or the Larsson sequel didn’t get made. As good as both could be I seriously don’t think they’re necessary. The Swedish version of ‘Fire’ follows the central story very well and I don’t see what a remake could add to make it better. Perhaps I’m a little selfish but I’d rather the studios spend the money on something that hasn’t been told before rather than revisit the same material time after time.

    If people were hungering for a Victorian centric Science Fiction story why not consider developing Stephen Baxter’s “Anti-ice”? It gives a fresh spin on “The First Men in the Moon” type story and could be made cheaper and cleaner than trying to do an underwater story. I think it would be interesting and exciting by just using native I-Max without 3-D or Cameron technology, which would save a great deal right there but at the same time justify an upcharge…

    • I guess the remakes are there for English speaking people afraid of subtitles and Hollywood to cash in on the stories. Nothing more.

      Otherwise, they aired the original TV movies over the Christmas holiday last year on Channel 4 and then the Fincher version premiered on the movie channels and while I enjoyed both, it just seemed like the exact same movie except for the language and the subtitles or lack thereof.

      I guess if you prefer the remake, you can buy that and hope for the others to be remade or if you loved the made-for-TV movies with Noomi Rapace then you can buy them instead.

      Oldboy will probably turn out the same.

      • @Dazz

        How come I don’t see you commenting in the Japanese “Unforgiven” remake? That’s obviously a movie for Japanese speaking people afraid of subtitles right? Get to it!

  10. Haven’t seen the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but I hear it’s great. Fincher is a great director, not Scorsese like though, obviously. Anyways, the sequel should be successful if the cast and Fincher return.
    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a pretty good movie with James Mason, Kirk Douglas, and Peter Lorre. One of Disney’s best live action attempts. Now, with Fincher onboard and if it rises out of development hell, it could possibly attract two big stars facing off much like Mason vs. Douglas. How about Daniel Day-Lewis vs. Russell Crowe?

  11. I thought the first Dragon Tattoo movie was great, never read the books or saw the original movie but I thought the actors were great. I really hope they make the next two and that everyone comes back.

    I dont know the story but can they really do this without Craig?

  12. I guess I’m in the minority here but I’m rather excited to see what Fincher does with Gone Girl.
    I read it after hearing Fincher was attached and while I don’t think it was as amazing as some it really is something I think Fincher can make great.

  13. I’d be interested in seeing the other two novels through Fincher’s lens. I don’t subscribe to the belief that ‘originals’ are better and, expressly in this instance, I cared more for Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth than Noomi Rapace’s. Sorry to say, she’s one actress that has yet to intrigue me. As for Craig, he seemed quite comfortable in the role and it was a nice change of pace for him given his 007 success. I won’t say it lent to his performance in Skyfall, but these two films suggested he had improved his screen presence and accepted the role of headliner.

    • I completely agree and Fincher’s version is superior.
      The cast has a lot to do with it especially Rooney Mara.
      Noomi Rapace’s appeal, such as it is, escapes me as well.

  14. I would love to see a 20K remake, but if they’re going to screw with it as they did with THE LONE RANGER, perhaps shelving the project is for the best.

  15. Ii love rooney maya I hope you guys do consider the sequels with her in mind I would definitely love to see her she rocks one of my favorite actress I loved the girl with the dragon tattoo. You have my vote