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'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel Won't Arrive Earlier Than 2014; David Fincher Still Not Confirmed

by Edward Davis
August 23, 2012 9:20 AM
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Dragon Tattoo Mara Craig

Wondering what's going on with the followup to Sony's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," the adaptation of Stieg Larsson's best-selling novel ($30 million copies sold worldwide) that grossed $232 million worldwide, but only $102 million domestically in its 2011 iteration as directed by David Fincher?

Entertainment Weekly provides a little update, that by now should be more than obvious. And it boils down to this: the would-be sequel, "The Girl Who Played With Fire," won't be released in 2013. Well, duh. For one, the 2013 studio film schedule is already quickly being filled if not mostly already settled. Movies arriving in 2013 are either already shot and in post-production (Warner Bros. "Man Of Steel," Disney's "Lone Ranger"), are shooting now (Disney's "Iron Man 3," Fox's "The Wolverine"), are dated for 2013 and are about to shoot (Sony's "RoboCop,"), or are on the schedule, but might not be ready in time since not a frame of digital film has been shot ("Sin City: A Dame To Kill For").

While it can be done in a shorter period of time if you're a madman and want to drive your crew crazy (see "X-Men: First Class"), you ideally want at least a year of padding to complete a feature-length film without rushing. A close example is Lionsgate's "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," which shoots later this fall, and then opens November 22, 2013. They wouldn't want to push a big moneymaker like that with a shorter frame in case they need to make tweaks.

This is all a long way of saying that the earliest we're going to see "The Girl Who Played With Fire" is 2014 because there is no production scheduled on the horizon anytime soon. In fact, although he essentially finished a draft last year, apparently Academy-Award winning screenwriter Steve Zaillian was is still tinkering with the screenplay. Then there's the question of whether David Fincher will direct--specifically, whether he wants to and whether Sony wants him back (stars Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig are contracted for a trilogy so they're already locked in). Fincher butted heads with producer Scott Rudin and Sony on the project, so there's at least some residual bad blood, and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" was successful globally, but barely made its own budget back domestically (and didn't when you count promotion and advertising).

A source tells EW that the film won't move forward with the script until Zaillian is done, and the studio is in no rush, but that's total spin. You don't buy the rights to a multi-million-dollar franchise and then wait several years between pictures so you can slow down the momentum of your brand and let it simmer. Last we heard very early in the year, Fincher wanted to make "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea" as written by Scott Z. Burns ("Contagion") and shoot it this fall. But this was long before "John Carter" turned out to be a huge bust over at Disney, and now the idea of making an expensive ($200 million) 3D movie without a built-in audience, one that isn't a tried-and-true brand, now seems a dicey proposition (whether this even gets made remains to be seen).

So what's Fincher been up to? The filmmaker has spent the better part of this year shooting his Netflix-made TV show "House Of Cards," which he, Kevin Spacey and 'Social Network' producer Dana Brunetti are all execs on (it's also been rumored to have its share of issues). Will we see a David Fincher-helmed 'Dragon Tattoo' sequel? Well, the leads will always be there, and a year or more between films certainly lets any problems at the time fade deeper into the past, but personally, we don't see it. Life's too short and there are plenty of other stories Fincher wants to tell. But hell, we've been wrong before.

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  • TL | August 24, 2012 5:46 AMReply

    Swedish versions are awesome and the actress so much better! Casting is terrible in this version and Daniel Craig is Hot but does not fit that character at all! I am a huge fan of the books and will see the sequels but I won't be rushing out to the theatre!

  • starway2001 | August 23, 2012 3:49 PMReply

    The movie made a mint on home video. Blu-ray sales were very very strong domestically. I can't find the international home-vid numbers, but if the ratio is the same as the box office then Sony probably recouped it's investment by now. If not in the black a little.

    I would personally love the see Fincher return since he's on record stating that he prefers the second book over the first one. Also, Fincher does his best work when his budget's are considerably tighter (TSN). My guess is that Sony would want to produce the movie in the $70M range.

  • ddddd | August 23, 2012 3:59 PM

    They may have made their money back, but that doesn't mean it's enough to warrant a franchise. From what I remember, they expected a lot more than they got.

  • Tom | August 23, 2012 1:22 PMReply

    As much as I hate Fincher to be trapped in franchise land, this series has some serious meat on its bones. I hope he comes back for the two sequels. Otherwise we're likely to get sequels as "meh" as the original Swedish ones.

  • Deb | August 23, 2012 9:41 PM

    Saw all three in the original with sub titles. They were great and the female lead was outstanding. Liked the US version but not as much

  • James | August 23, 2012 2:33 PM

    Part of the problem is that the second and third novels are not as good as the first. The first is a relatively simple, moody noir in which the two leads investigate an old-fashioned Agatha Christie-style mystery. The second and third are really one book, cut in two, and are a "24"-style political conspiracy/paranoia thriller in which the central mystery revolves completely around Salander's criminal mastermind father and her own background, with dangerous secrets leading to the top of Swedish government. The books are less grounded and more silly, more like James Bond movies.

  • AS | August 23, 2012 10:39 AMReply

    I don't care how long they wait. As long as it gets made with Fincher at the helm, I'll be happy.

  • Sam | August 23, 2012 9:34 AMReply

    why should we care if a film made its budget back only domestically?

  • Fred | August 24, 2012 5:09 AM

    You don't, the studio does.

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