By Kinsey Lowe | Thompson on Hollywood July 9, 2010 at 9:24AM
Millennium fever continues unabated in the U.S., reports Kinsey Lowe, as the second Swedish movie based on Stieg Larsson's trilogy hits theaters today in Los Angeles and New York City and the translation of the third novel remains near the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
As a prelude to today's U.S. debut of The Girl Who Played With Fire, Laemmle Theatres of Los Angeles offered members of its Sneak Preview Club screenings Thursday night of a new documentary on Larsson, Millenium: The Story followed by a refresher showing of the first movie, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Befitting a movie about the author of a worldwide book phenomenon whose first two novels have sold more than one million copies combined in the U.S. alone, the screening of Millennium: The Story at the Playhouse 7 in Pasadena was packed, with hardly any empty seats; Laemmle also screened the documentary at its theaters in Claremont, Encino and Santa Monica.
The documentary clarifies one thing: the reason that Larsson and architect Eva Gabrielsson never married, even though they were together for more than 30 years, was that he was worried that tying his name to hers publicly would put her life in jeopardy from neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremist movements chronicled in Expo, the quarterly Larsson co-founded and on which his books' Millennium magazine was based. The dispute over Larsson's legacy-- he died suddenly of a heart attack in 2004 before any of the novels was published-- has been characterized as a classically tragic family feud between his father and brother and Gabrielsson over the unexpected financial rewards of the books.
The documentary, which was made with the participation of France's Canal Plus premium TV network, agrees with the recent NYT Magazine feature that the father, Erland, and brother, Joakim, are ill-equipped to handle Larsson's unexpectedly gargantuan legacy. He did not leave a will, and under Swedish law that makes his father and brother his heirs.
Defenders of Gabrielsson, who retains physical possession of a laptop that holds an unfinished fourth novel and other material that may include outlines for as many as ten, contend that the dispute is not about money but about control of that legacy and any future adaptations. Although the Larssons have relinquished their claim on the apartment Gabrielsson shared with Stieg, she rejected their most recent offer on sharing his estate.
The books, according to video posted on Canal Plus's web site, have sold at least 20 million copies worldwide in 45 countries. The third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, debuted at the top of the New York Times fiction bestseller list a few weeks back and remained at No. 2 in the most recent chart. A new chart is being posted July 9.
One of the top specialty movies this year, the U.S. release of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo grossed $9 million; its foreign tally of $92 million makes for a worldwide figure of $101 million. U.S. distributor Music Box Films did not have foreign tallies for the two subsequent movies.
The weekend openings on 110 screens for The Girl Who Played With Fire (reviews listed on MRQE.com and RottenTomatoes) will benefit from pent-up demand from fans of the first movie and those who have also finished the second novel. UPDATE: indieWIRE reports a strong opening.
Music Box said The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest is scheduled to open in the U.S. on Oct. 15.
Meanwhile, as previously reported on TOH, the inevitable U.S. remake for subtitle-challenged mainstream audiences is rolling along with producer Scott Rudin and director David Fincher, with Daniel Craig cast as the crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and rampant speculation about who might play the female hacker wizard Lisbeth Salander.