Fans of the American film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s uber popular mystery novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo have had to deal with the disappointment of little hope for Sony making the two sequels to that movie over three years after the first was released at Christmas of 2011. On the surface, it seemed like David Fincher’s film performed very well. The movie received Oscar nominations and made a new star out of actress Rooney Mara, whose performance as the troubled genius heroine Lisbeth Salander was universally praised. But Sony felt like the film didn’t make as much money as the studio would have liked, and the sequels have been put on the back burner ever since. Now the new book in the Millennium Trilogy, taken in part from Larsson’s unfinished manuscripts and finished by writer David Lagercrantz, could breath enough interest into the series that Sony might be pushed to revisit the uncompleted franchise.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Sony has purchased the film rights to the new book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, in addition to the main trilogy. The studio isn’t happy with how much it cost to complete Fincher’s vision of the first book, as the $90 million price tag severely cut into the studio’s profits. Former Sony head Amy Pascal was instrumental in negotiating the studio obtaining the film rights and now she’s on as a producer of any project related to the books. Some at Sony have floated the idea of turning the second and third novels into one movie and following that up with the movie version of Spider’s Web, but THR says Pascal is against this as it would mean trashing a script for the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, that the studio already paid “mid-seven figures” for.
The potential for those sequels getting made has been looked at with varying levels of optimism. David Fincher and Rooney Mara have both said they’d be willing to do it, so the issue stopping it seems to mostly be Sony’s disappointment that the movie only made $232 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo. That wasn’t quite as much as Sony was hoping for a movie that already had a fan base, big name director and actors, and was released at Christmas. Apparently the fact that it was nominated for several Oscars (and won one of them), including Rooney Mara for best actress, which turned her into an overnight celebrity and one of the most desired new faces in Hollywood didn’t mean much to the studio.
Mara has repeatedly said she’d be willing to return to the character that made her name. Her commitment to the role, which saw her getting some very sensitive areas pierced and learning to drive a motorcycle, earned her that Oscar nod. Due to her busy film schedule they’d need to work out the time to do the sequels soon. She has also said that the films would need to happen soon due to the physicality of the role and the fact she isn’t “getting any younger.”
Fincher has also said he remains hopeful Sony will eventually make the sequels happen. He said in an interview last year that he thinks the studio has poured so much money into the franchise that it would be in its best financial interest to make the films. The rights to the books and the scripts that it’s already paid for would go to waste without making the movies.
One of the main problems with making the sequels was that the fan fervor over the books, the first of which was released in English in 2008, had mostly died down. Though the books sold millions of copies due to the classic mystery formula being enhanced by a northern European setting and the troubled but brilliant cyberpunk heroine, Larsson died before the books were ever even published, so the three were supposed to be all we were ever going to get. Once excitement over the trilogy was over, Sony had sort of lost its opportunity to capitalize on it.
The release of The Girl in the Spider’s Web gives the studio new opportunity. If fans are pleased with Lagercrantz’s interpretation of Larsson’s world, then many in publishing stand to keep making money on Larsson’s characters. If the book proves to be a hit, then Sony might decide it, too, could profit on the renewed interest in the story of feminist crime fighter Lisbeth Salander. Whether the studio decides to bring back Fincher, Mara, and Daniel Craig due to their high price tags also remains to be seen, but it’s looking more hopeful than it was before Spider’s Web.
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS