There are a handful of reasons why a followup to David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo adaptation, The Girl Who Played with Fire is not arriving this Fall, as was originally intended. On the creative side of development, both Fincher and screenwriter Steve Zaillian have been struggling to "make it [their] own thing," as far as adapting Stieg Larsson's source material goes.
However, financial issues are of greater concern for Sony, after Dragon Tattoo only proved to be a moderate box office success (a $233 million worldwide gross on a $90 million budget); not to mention, its profit margin is smaller when compared to director Niels Arden Oplev's Swedish adaptation (which grossed $104 million on a $13 million budget). Hence, the sequel is shaping up leaner than its predecessor - which could mean more than just budget reductions.
THR is reporting that
007 Daniel Craig - who played journalist Mikael Blomkvist in Dragon Tattoo, opposite Rooney Mara as the titular character (Lisbeth Salander) - could end up being lumped together with other "loose fat" trimmed off to make Girl Who Played with Fire a cheaper investment. The reason? He's now able to demand a higher salary than before, in the aftermath of Skyfall collecting over $1 billion in theaters.
Insiders says that negotiations with Craig have not started yet, but the actor does want to reprise his role. Nonetheless, Girl Who Played with Fire revolves primarily around the continuing adventures of Lisbeth; unlike Dragon Tattoo, Blomkvist is something of a fringe player in the neo-Noir thriller proceedings. That is not to say Craig should be removed from Zallian's script - nor that the task of writing him out would be simple and clean - but, regardless, that option remains on the table.
Right now, either the Dragon Tattoo sequel or Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake looks to become Fincher's next directing effort (note: Fincher has begun early talks to adapt Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl novel, but development on the aforementioned projects is much further ahead... for now, anyway). Both literature adaptations are currently stalled in pre-production, thanks to the potential cost; that goes double for the latter, as the Jules Verne adaptation is a 3D CGI-heavy venture boasting effects demands on a par with Avatar and John Carter. The pair are racing to work out their budget woes first, in order to begin production this year.
Sony has more on its plate right now than just worries about Craig's salary for Girl Who Played with Fire. Mara, after all, is a rising talent (case in point: she headlines next week's Side Effects), so bringing her back might become more expensive as time goes on. There's also Fincher's original proposal to consider, ie. shooting the second and third installments, including Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, back-to-back; that could allow for the cost-cutting Sony wants. However, this approach requires waiting upwards of an extra year for either Zallian or another screenwriter to adapt Larsson's third book. In short: there are some hard choices to be made here, by Sony and Fincher alike.
More on The Girl Who Played with Fire as the story develops.