By Anne Thompson and Bill Desowitz | Thompson on Hollywood July 18, 2013 at 1:22PM
Daniel Craig is starring in two major franchises with sequels in progress. Director Sam Mendes is back on board Bond 24, while a new writer, Andrew Kevin Walker (Fincher's "Seven" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea") has come aboard to rewrite Steve Zaillian's script for "The Girl Who Played with Fire." But who will direct the "Dragon Tattoo" sequel?
Sources say Sony wants to bring down the budget from the original's $90-million-plus and the Emmy-nominated David Fincher ("House of Cards") is not the route to doing that. The risk with headstrong demanding directors like Fincher and Gore Verbinski ("The Lone Ranger") is that studios get scared that budgets will get too high to allow for serious profits. Thus Disney has reportedly scrapped Fincher’s $200 million-plus, 3-D “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea." In any case, Fincher is moving on, prepping to shoot thriller “Gone Girl” this fall, starring Ben Affleck. Fincher is seeking a leading lady. And what has happened to Sony's big-budget tentpole "Cleopatra"? Fincher was interested in that before Sony headed toward Oscar-winner Ang Lee.
Meanwhile, since Sony has Daniel Craig for both "Dragon Tattoo" and its prized Bond franchise, juggling schedules becomes a further complication. Fortunately, Sam Mendes will return for "Bond 24" (October 23, 2015 UK; November 6, 2015, US). But the three-year gap for the billion-dollar "Skyfall" follow-up not only accommodates Mendes' busy theatrical schedule (the "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" musical just bowed in London and "King Lear" opens in January), but also presumably allows Craig to make the "Dragon Tattoo" sequel. Speaking of "Bond 24" and busy schedules, will celebrated cinematographer Roger Deakins return along with production designer Dennis Gassner? But other than the Hugh Jackman vigilante thriller, "Prisoners" (September 20), nothing official is on the horizon.