The saga of Stiegg Larson’s Millenium series has been an interesting one. All three of his hit novels — The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest – were published after his death. Larson’s creations became posthumous international bestsellers, and then a highly successful trio of Swedish adaptations starring Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyquist. It didn’t take long before Hollywood caught on, producing their own David Fincher-led Girl With the Dragon Tattoo starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig.
From there though, things stalled. Sweden’s trilogy of films managed to release all within a single year in 2009, and yet somehow America’s counterparts never made it past the first installment in 2011. It seemed odd for the studio not to continue on, given the fact that the American adaptation made over $200 million on a slim $90 million budget. It featured A-list actors like Craig and Christopher Plummer, direction from one of Hollywood’s greats in Fincher, and even a killer soundtrack from Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one for best film editing. And yet here we are four years later, with no word on when we’ll be seeing a sequel.
Given the film industry’s propensity for franchises nowadays, it’s more than a little shocking to see it take so long for the next movie to hit theaters. So what’s the holdup? The onus right now seems to fall squarely on the shoulders of the studio currently in charge, Sony Pictures. With a new Millenium novel set imminently release, Sony has been inspired to rework their plans entirely. Their latest plan is to combine the last two novels (rather than follow the prevailing trend of splitting the final book), and then adapt the yet-to-be-released book into the third film to give them a neat, tidy trilogy.
Past that though, the plan as it stands right now is something of a mess. Sony has talked about not bringing Daniel Craig back to save money, while David Fincher has yet to be signed on to return as director. Rooney Mara doesn’t even seem to know when things will be settled, and things seem to be in a general state of disarray concerning future movies. All we have right now is a script penned by Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List), rewritten by Andrew Kevin Walker (S7ven), but even that’s for a film based only on the second novel, going against Sony’s new plan to combine it with the third.
It’s been a peculiar road to say the very least for Hollywood’s attempt at the Millenium series. They came out with an adaptation that was universally regarded as a stellar film led by steady hands, and then things fell apart soon after that. If anything, it’s a master course on how nothing is ever a sure thing in the film industry, even a hit franchise based on a popular series of books. But in an age of studios milking franchises for all their worth, it’s strange to see Sony make such a mess of what should have been a slam dunk.
Most every time it takes this long to get all the ducks in a row, the finished product ends up a disappointment. Films stuck in development hell for years rarely come out the other end a polished, well-made product. We can only hope that this is the exception that proves the rule, as Sony attempts to straighten out the future for franchise that in a lot of ways deserves at least two more amazing films.
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