Back in 2011, Sony’s adaption of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo promised all the dark twists and turns that Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s novels entailed, as well as strong direction from David Fincher (Gone Girl) and a quality cast in Daniel Craig (Spectre), Rooney Mara (Carol) and Stellan Skarsgård (Avengers: Age of Ultron). The plan had been to kick off an adult oriented franchise that would see all three of Larsson’s highly popular Millennium novels adapted.
Unfortunately, some five years later, plans to adapt the next novel in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, seem to have stalled. Something about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – which incidentally, won an Oscar out of 5 nominations and grossed more than $200 million off a $90 million budget – hasn’t quite sat right with Sony for some time, despite its comfortable success. At one point, Dragon Tattoo writer Steve Zaillian (Moneyball) even wrote a script for the next film, but regardless, Sony has not moved forward with the next installment.
All of that looks like it might be about to change, however. Sony appears to be getting set to move forward once again on the franchise, only this time they’ve placed their sights not on the second novel in the series, but the fourth. The Girl in the Spider’s Web – which is not one Stieg Larsson’s original Millennium novels - has been adapted for Sony by screenwriter Steven Knight (Burnt). Although the story does not follow the events of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Sony will still be marketing the film as a sequel.
Here is what Knight told Collider, with regard to how Girl in the Spider's Web continues the Dragon Tattoo franchise:
“A commission and an original are two different things, and both have their virtues and vices. A commission is a bit more collaborative, in that you outline the story that you think should be told, and then you write it. And then, there are notes and you change it, in the conventional studio system. But, it was great fun to do because of the central character. With The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the girl is really the central character. She’s the whole thing. It’s not really Blomkvist.
“It can’t be anything other than a sequel, but a couple of books have been skipped, so it is different, in that sense. It’s really taking a very strong central character and thinking, how do you execute this? It’s quite different.”
Author Stieg Larsson had intended his Millennium series to span a total of ten books. However, Larsson died unexpectedly back in 2004, after only completing three books. The books were a huge success and more than 10 years after his death, the Larsson estate gave permission to continue on with the series. This continuation was disputed by Larsson’s girlfriend of 32 years, who maintained that the late author would have been “furious” over the idea of author David Lagercrantz continuing the series with The Girl in the Spider’s Web. In terms of a new film, there is still no confirmation as to whether or not Rooney Mara will return for the lead role of Lisbeth Salander and the current rumor is that Fede Alvarez (Don’t Breathe, Evil Dead) is in the running to direct.
For whatever reason, Sony hasn’t been happy with the reaction The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo received. Unfortunately, what the studio seems to have failed to recognize is that Larsson’s Millennium was already brilliantly adapted in 2010 with the Swedish language mini-series Millennium. Far removed from the Hollywood remake, fans of Larsson’s books found much of what they wanted in that production. For Sony to turn around now and ignore the next two novels in order to film something that Larsson himself didn’t even write is taking a gamble. The Millennium series has a very specific demographic and it's possible that its audience isn’t going to take kindly to reconfiguring the tale.
Throughout the production of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, director David Fincher was continuously at odds with Sony over much of how the film came to be. This time around the studio is ensuring that they are very much in control – screenwriter Steven Knight was commissioned to work closely with the studio on the script and a director will likely be chosen that Sony executives know they can see eye to eye with. These details will definitely make a different film than what Fincher provided, but whether or not that difference will result in what Sony is looking for is a big question indeed.
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