David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo adaptation grossed $233 million worldwide on a $90 million budget (not to mention, earned much critical acclaim), yet development of its sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, has come to a standstill. When last we heard of the project, Fincher was saying that he still intended to make the film, but that was several months ago - and all's been quiet on that front ever since.
The lack of progress on the movie hasn't just been frustrating for fans, but for the film's stars as well. Luckily for all parties involved, the plan to bring the Dragon Tattoo followups to the big screen is being formulated by Sony once again - albeit in a slightly altered manner than before.
THR is reporting that the presence of a fourth installment in the Millennium book series, The Girl in the Spider's Web, has impacted Sony's vision for how the sequels should pan out. According to their sources, the idea is to combine The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest into one film (without Fincher's involvement), and close out a trilogy of films with an adaptation of Spider's Web.
A popular trend in Hollywood these days is to take the final book in a young-adult series and split it into two films to double the profit; a practice that draws some ire critically since more often than not, as narrative material is spread thin to cover two blockbuster movies. In this instance, we would get the reversal of that, and it's easy to see how the combo film could be accused of compressing the story (read: not developing the narrative enough).
Then again, the second and third Millennium books are essentially two halves of the same story, so a movie that combines them - streamlining the plot and trimming any "fat" - could feasibly improve the overall narrative, in this case.
For those still holding out hope that each book with get its own single film version, Amy Pascall is in your corner. The former Sony head will be serving as a producer on the Dragon Tattoo sequels, and she is not a fan of the proposed plan described above. The studio paid seven figures for Steve Zaillian's script of Played With Fire, and later commissioned Se7en scribe Andrew Kevin Walker for a rewrite. With that hefty investment in mind, Pascall is not keen on shelving the screenplay and having all that work go to waste. We'll have to see how this gets resolved.
It is unknown at this time if Rooney Mara or Daniel Craig are part of this equation. The latter's participation in any sequel was always up in the air, since at one point Sony considered removing him from the Played With Fire film in order to save on the budget. Even though Mara "isn't getting any younger," one would have to think she would be brought back if this comes into fruition quickly, as her portrayal of hacker Lisbeth Salander was one of the best received aspects of the first film. She's arguably more important to this franchise than Craig - though both are principal players.
The dark, moody atmosphere of the Dragon Tattoo world certainly gels well with Fincher's directorial style, so it is disappointing to see that Sony is considering not having him return to helm the sequel. One would think that after the massive critical and commercial success of Gone Girl, the filmmaker would have the clout he needed to get his version of Played With Fire made.
Hopefully whomever Sony hires for the job of directing all (or, rather, any) future Dragon Tattoo sequels is as strong a fit for these films as Fincher - as their handling of the material will no doubt be compared to the fan-favorite auteur.
We'll keep you posted on development of The Girl Who Played With Fire as more information becomes available.