David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo introduced viewers to Lisbeth Salander, and although he had plans for the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, it never happened - but why? Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy was famously adapted to the big screen in his home country, Sweden, and while the same was supposed to happen with a Hollywood version, Sony eventually chose to reboot the franchise instead.
The first book in the series, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, got its Hollywood adaptation thanks to David Fincher, with Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander and Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist. The film was very well received by critics and viewers, who mostly praised the performance of Mara and the overall tone of the film, which was quite faithful to the book. Although it didn’t end in a cliffhanger, it did make way for the sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, but the plans fell through and it was never made.
Back in 2011, Fincher shared that the plan was to film The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest back-to-back, with Sony confirming in 2012 that the sequel was moving forward. The film was delayed many times due to constant changes to the script, with Fincher sharing in 2014 that the story was “extremely different from the book”. However, with the release of the fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web (written by David Lagercrantz), Sony decided to go with a reboot instead of a proper sequel, leaving Fincher and the rest out.
First reports said that the initial idea was to combine The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest in one film without Fincher’s involvement. In the end, the studio went for The Girl in the Spider’s Web as the sequel to Fincher’s film but with a completely different cast and director. This “soft reboot” was directed by Fede Álvarez and had Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander and Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomkvist.
The constant re-writes and thus delays in the development of The Girl Who Played With Fire eventually killed the project, and even though Sony still found a way around it, The Girl in the Spider’s Web wasn’t well-received either by critics or viewers, leaving fans of the first film and the books wondering what Fincher’s take on the second novel would have been like.