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).
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.