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Five Reasons Why The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Didn't Kick Ass at the Holiday Box Office

Box Office
by Anne Thompson
December 29, 2011 12:40 PM
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"The Girl the Dragon Tattoo."
"The Girl the Dragon Tattoo."

No question, Sony wasn't happy with the early holiday returns on David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." Why did the studio put this violent R-rated counterprogrammer into the holiday window opposite "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"? It got creamed, grossing only $19 million over four days and $27 over six days in release. Which leads many to ask, if the movie isn't wowing American audiences, why would Sony green light a sequel? Steve Zaillian has already started writing "The Girl Who Played with Fire," but the sequel has not yet been announced. Overseas box office will likely tip Sony in the sequel's favor, even if the domestic is lackluster. UPDATED Christmas box office numbers are here.

While the movie, which earned decent reviews and an A Cinemascore, should score more than the modest $35 million domestic Sony predicted for the Christmas break, just why did "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" disappoint?

1. The holiday release date may be Sony's biggest mistake. The movie wasn't ready for an earlier December berth, but the violent R-rated mystery (not a genre thriller--there's little action), makes unusual holiday fare. It had to face intense competition for the adult audience. And the movie is far less mainstream that you might think given the popularity of its source material. It would have knocked it out of the park on President's Day weekend in February.

2. It's not a mainstream genre title. Yes the books sold 30 million copies around the world, but in studio commercial movie terms, "Tattoo" is a brainy, cerebral, character-driven procedural along the lines of an Agatha Christie mystery. It boasts two detectives, not one. Breaking movie conventions, the male hero is white collar passive and reactive, almost feminine, while the heroine is the tattooed outsider vengeful action hero on a motorbike, better on computers, the sexual aggressor, and saves the hero's ass. Men are not used to this--hey, Lisbeth Salander is on top--and it creates a level of discomfort.

3. It lacks marquee stars. But, you argue, Daniel Craig is James Bond. Well, he makes a great Agent 007, but it's James Bond that pulls people into theaters, not Craig. Put him in anything else and he's a great-looking, charismatic actor with action chops and a wide range. But he didn't pull audiences to see "Cowboys and Aliens." Neither did Harrison Ford. Marquee movie stars are few these days. It helps if they are in a franchise: Tom Cruise in a "Mission" movie, Matt Damon in "Bourne." Only Angelina Jolie or Will Smith-- in an action vehicle--are box office guarantees.

4. Sony mismarketed the film. This movie should have opened better with such a brand title. Despite the R rating, the studio sold the movie as transgressive, dark genre fare to younger audiences, but it played to adults, many of whom had read the book. I don't buy the argument that this is another foreign remake that didn't wash with American audiences. Many of them did not see the Swedish film, which played art houses. This is more of an adaptation of a bestseller that was translated into English. The film's primary appeal was to women (attendees were 55% female) and adults (49% 35 and over).

5. It's too expensive and too long. Put David Fincher at the helm of a studio movie and it's going to cost--and two hours and 38 minutes takes its toll at the box office, with fewer slots a day. But why did this movie need a budget of $100 million? That's what dictated the prime-time holiday release date inside the Oscar corridor (which should have been irrelevant to this film). Gorgeous as this and "Hugo" are, their inflated budgets make it much harder to come out in the plus column.


  • aramathis | March 29, 2013 10:57 AMReply

    Watched in on line and in my opinion that really was the issue I think for the box office low dollars. I am one of millions that had not read the books and was not drawn to the title or the movie given I knew nothing about it The movie was just awesome and I will be going to the theater to see the sequel for sure. Those of you that didn’t like it ... wow ... really? I have to wonder what you do like as this was just fantastic.

  • aramathis | March 29, 2013 10:57 AMReply

    Watched in on line and in my opinion that really was the issue I think for the box office low dollars. I am one of millions that had not read the books and was not drawn to the title or the movie given I knew nothing about it The movie was just awesome and I will be going to the theater to see the sequel for sure. Those of you that didn’t like it ... wow ... really? I have to wonder what you do like as this was just fantastic.

  • aramathis | March 29, 2013 10:56 AMReply

    Watched in on line and in my opinion that really was the issue I think for the box office low dollars. I am one of millions that had not read the books and was not drawn to the title or the movie given I knew nothing about it The movie was just awesome and I will be going to the theater to see the sequel for sure. Those of you that didn’t like it ... wow ... really? I have to wonder what you do like as this was just fantastic.

  • Don | July 8, 2012 9:20 PMReply

    Just got to see it. I really liked Rooney Mara, and Daniel Craig, actually, but I found it hard to understand the dialogue and so also found it hard to follow the logic in the story line.

  • thebest666 | May 26, 2012 9:44 PMReply

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the best movie I have seen in my life and all should feel the firey hell fire of death for not liking it.

  • Grace | January 8, 2012 10:09 PMReply

    As someone who has read the book first and seen the original movie. I don't have any interest in seeing this English adaptation. I think it is because I can only picture Noomi and Michael as Lisbeth and Mikel. Because the book isn't light reading and is purely to do with the character's history, development and relationships, I can only associate each character with one person and can't imagine the new actors. (it may have worked out if the could have done the English version in a couple of years).

  • abbeysbooks | March 15, 2012 1:04 AM

    English version much inferior to the Swedish version. Gone is the engimatic, charistmatic menacing seductive sexy Liz Salander replaced with a moody, unattractive Rooney Mara. Daniel Craig, who used to be a wonderful actor is reduced to ineffective gestures, cigarette after cigarette props, cliched scenes. Oh it is just awful. The screenplay has a tin ear, the camera work is old timey, the direction - well was there any? - the editing a first year film student? I can't go on.

  • Vidiot | January 3, 2012 8:13 PMReply

    One of the reasons the movie cost $100 million was because Fincher lost 8 weeks when he fired DP Fredrik Bäckar and replaced him with Jeff Cronenweth, forcing them to reshoot quite a bit of material. I also think it was very, very expensive to shoot in Sweden compared to other parts of the world in which the story would've still worked.

  • Hernest | January 2, 2012 2:43 PMReply

    Daniel Craig is one arrogant mouth and he deserves many lessons.

  • AS | January 3, 2012 11:43 AM

    If you despise the film and the people involved so much, why did you even bother reading the article, and furthermore, why did you take the time to write no less than 3 consecutive comments? The only thing you've succeeded in doing is outing yourself as a shameless troll.

  • Hernest | January 2, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    David Fincher is a liar. He broke his promise. He was going to cast an unknown European actress but he never held auditions in Europe and he tested well-known actresses just in the US. This hypocrite called Rooney Mara at once and told her about the audition and he helped to get a part when giving her advice how to do it. He had to convince studio executives to hire her. Pure nepotism.

  • Hernest | January 2, 2012 2:34 PMReply

    Sony wanted to release the movie in the summer 2012 initially but they hurried as they wanted to make blockbuster and saw money flying down from the sky directly to them. Now they see a total s.hit of it. They're getting lessons.

  • Hernest | January 2, 2012 2:29 PMReply

    what a shame... Daniel Craig's last movies Flashbacks of a Fool, Quantum of Solace, Defiancé, Dream House, Cowboys&Aliens and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo failed. He calls other people idiots and shi'theads but he should look in the mirror at himself and call himself names like idiot! shit'head! for taking bad movies.

  • cliff | January 2, 2012 2:01 PMReply

    (Cont'd from below)

    2. When the Duds made Wennerstrom an archrival of the Vangers, and
    had Vanger provide the goods that save Blomkvist in the end, I almost
    dropped out of my seat, even though I saw it coming from the start of
    the film! Here was the ultimate heroine saving the victim of the
    original, completely undermined and for no good reason at all! What,
    so Vanger and Blomkvist felt good about each other in the end?? That
    wasn't a point of dramatic tension anywhere even in the Duds' version.
    After Lisabeth allows Vanger to die in the car crash and
    withdraws to a new life, Lisabeth is the only character who can use
    her hacking skills to save B. To eliminate this is to take Lisabeth
    down another peg. She is no longer the heroine, but just a helper to
    the hero, who is saved by others (the Vangers). Nuts! I felt sooo
    bad for Lisabeth that she was AGAIN stripped of her power by two more
    men, the Duds! Again!! This is too much to bear!

    There are so many little moments where this theme was played out, but
    Act III was the worst:

    3. What was powerful in the 2009 version: When Lisabeth saved
    Blomkvist while hanging, she dashed after (her volition and choice)
    Vanger to chase him down. When Lisabeth CHOSE to watch Vanger die in
    flames in the car crash, instead of saving him, she was in her nature:
    unable to show mercy to the woman haters or just not wanting to.
    Either way it was HER choice and she made it without apologies. When
    Blomkvist is with her in bed and says he couldn't have let Vanger burn
    to death, but Blomkvist could understand how Lisabeth could be that
    way, it was a complete acknowledgement of the power of Lisabeth's
    suffering and bowing to her power, her decisions!

    How the Duds sapped the power: The one moment I wanted to stand up in
    the theater and shout, "NO! Don't DO this!" was when, after saving
    Blomkvist, Lisabeth turns to Blomkvist and ASKS PERMISSION, as in,
    "Can I kill him??" and Blomkvist, on the floor, beat up, says, "Yes!"
    To take the power of that decision from Lisabeth hurt all women and
    the men who love them! For Lisabeth to give her power away and
    actually ask Blomkvist if it was ok with him for her to be HERSELF, in
    her own nature, was IMPOSSIBLE to fathom!!! This could NEVER happen if
    the Duds had one iota of understanding of the power Lisabeth carries
    in her soul gathered from the abuse and suffering she endured and
    somehow managed to stay SANE! SHAME SHAME on the DUDS!!!!

    Then Vanger's car crashes in a public square, where observers could
    see Lisabeth's decision making process. And she never has the time to
    decide to save Vanger because the car instantly bursts into flames!!
    These idiot Duds (sic) took a very private moment, where no other soul
    would know whether Lisabeth decides to save Vanger or let him die, and
    put it in the middle of the village shops! So this time, if that
    decision moment came, which it doesn't, Lisabeth (and the audience)
    would have to worry about onlookers. And then the Duds take the
    moment away from Lisabeth, where her cumulated pain and anger drive
    her decision and nothing can stop that and for all we, the audience
    has seen, is not seen as dark or her bad, but, her good! The Duds
    completely took this poignant private decision from Lisabeth, and
    therefore made it just, oh, well, the bad Vanger got what he deserved,
    NOT that Lisabeth was the one who delivered the punishment, as was
    essential to the story and her as the saving grace, the avenging

    I can only ask myself if the Duds projected their Hollywood
    male hero version onto this be-you-to-full women's revenge tale in one
    big subconscious moment (as in They Know Not What They Do). And
    therefore, they could not help themselves, but the reveal still

  • abbeysbooks | March 15, 2012 1:08 AM

    You have more energy than I. the american version sucked sucked sucked.

  • cliff | January 2, 2012 2:00 PMReply

    This version was doomed to fail! Please at least note some of the actual reasons!

    What was increasingly disturbing as the new version wore on, was how
    the writer and director (the Duds) completely missed/destroyed/bumbled
    the essential relationship between Salander and Blomkvist. As you
    point out, the new version stands on its own, sans the power of the
    first version. That the new writer and director (The Duds) completely
    reversed the POWER relationship between the two was unforgivable
    simply because it showed that the US talent (both men) never
    understood Lisabeth (the unrightly-abused woman) in the first place!

    Salander was always the powerful one, in her power from the first
    moment we met her. Blomkvist was the one needing rescuing, the
    vulnerable one, also from the first moment we hear the verdict as he
    sits there powerless.

    Here are a few of the points that speak the blasphemy and drain the
    power of the story:

    1. The Duds create a daughter for Blomkvist who is Christian, and who
    now offhandedly mentions the first critical breakthrough in the
    missing Harriet case in the last 40 years. The original story LEAPS
    to Life when Salander breaks the case and then goes through tremendous
    angst when sending the email informing Blomkvist. When Lisabeth
    finally hits the send button, she is choosing to come out of cover,
    something she never does, exposing that she has been hacking
    Blomkvist's files, was smarter than him, and even leaves a trail for
    Blomkvist to find her. This coming out process is so essential
    because Lisabeth has to go against her secure position, her own
    interests, in order to help Blomkvist. For the first time, we see
    Lisabeth vulnerable, and for a grand cause: to save Blomkvist, help
    To eliminate this power relationship at the start was unforgivable!
    (Lisabeth the hero, Blomkvist the one needing saving). To make it
    worse, the Duds send Blomkvist to ask for Lisabeth's help (he
    initiates), without the underlying admiration for her brilliance that
    the 2009 version brings (that Lisabeth initiates, also showing she
    working on the case, too)! The Duds version takes away the power that
    Lisabeth is in charge of her life (before deciding to hit the send
    button), and consciously decides to do this. Instead the Duds give us
    the bland version that Blomkvist initiates the relationship and
    Lisabeth gives assent, NOT the other way around, which it absolutely
    HAD to be!

    (The reason, I'll bet, is one too many screenwriting classes which
    dictate over and over that the HERO must drive the story, not any
    other character! Which means, if the Duds took Blomkvist to be the
    hero, that they missed who the real hero is in the story (again
    sapping the power from the tale). As you mention in your review,
    taking Craig as Blomkvist is like shouting Blomkvist IS THE HERO! (as
    he always is in the Bond series) - a complete and utter screwup.

  • cliff | January 2, 2012 11:22 PM

    WHOOSH! Over your head, yes, lame no. The only lame move was the new movie. (Bet your male).

  • Tattoo fan | January 2, 2012 3:53 PM

    It seems as though you never read the book! Quit comparing it to the other version of the movie - compare it to the book. There were only slight changes from the book (which is common for film to be slightly different). Your analysis is lame.

  • Brian | January 2, 2012 11:57 AMReply

    I read Rooney Mara's interview in Entertainment Weekly and I was appalled at the way she was treated when they filmed the rape scene. Multiple takes (well over 20, she said) by Fincher and rough treatment that left her with bruises and scars. That's not supposed to happen. This is why you have stunt players, camera tricks and special effects--so that no one will be harmed or injured. This was abusive treatment and I'm upset that she's so eager to be a star that she didn't protest this. Where's SAG in all of this? And why does Fincher need so many takes? It's a sign of either an insane perfectionist or, more likely, someone who doesn't know what he's doing or what he wants. Needless to say, I'm not a fan of Fincher. I haven't seen TATTOO yet, but I haven't liked any of his earlier movies.

  • p | January 5, 2012 1:43 AM

    Yikes. Abuse? Just so you know, sometimes hard work causes cuts and bruises. Not very different from plenty of other lines of work. I don't see how it's "eagerness to be a star," it's just willingness to do the work required to get the scene right. She's also not necessarily "eager for stardom" so much as she wanted to play a terrific role, as plenty of actors would. Why would the prospect of getting a couple black-and-blues dissuade her?

    Daniel Craig reportedly went unconscious during the [SPOILER] torture scene [/SPOILER] -- is that abuse? Some actors choose to do their own "stunts" (though these don't really qualify as stunts) and are allowed to, in most cases.

    Whatever your feelings toward Fincher's work, it's ridiculous to think doing a lot of takes is *only* a sign of either "insane perfectionism" or "someone who doesn't know what he's doing." You can read up on his process if you want. Everyone signs on knowing the way he likes to work. By all accounts, the actors enjoy the time and freedom their given to experiment.

  • Cliff | January 2, 2012 11:19 PM

    My analysis stands. The only lame item was the new version.

  • Napoleon | January 2, 2012 7:42 AMReply

    The thirty million books didnt sell inthe states because most of the people in the USA have never read a book. "Its cerebral" another reason they wouldnt understand it. Go see the original better version with subtitles in english and then tell us which is best. I also take issue with you saying people don't go to see Daniel Craig and that they go to see bond .. ? But, you then go on to say "it helps if they are in a franchise"... I seem to remember that bond was and is one of the largest ever movie franchises.. ??

  • Robin | January 2, 2012 9:47 AM

    I've seen the Swedish version, so I will tell you which is best.... David Fincher's version.

  • Anne Poso | January 2, 2012 1:40 AMReply

    Maybe the same person who wrote this article penned the screenplay. Poor grammar and editing. It should be noted that the Swedish version is one of the top 5 live streaming movies on Netflix.

  • Davey | January 1, 2012 1:17 PMReply

    Should say "the evilness of the entire family" above.

  • Davey | January 1, 2012 1:16 PMReply

    The American version is well edited and acted but I thought the screenplay was a problem compared to the Swedish version. You don't get a sense of the evilness of the entire mystery, solving the mystery of the multiple murders is almost a footnote, you barely see Blomquist and Lisbeth developing a rapport, and Fincher doesn't really build any suspense. I don't know if the screenwriter was assuming everyone read the books but the current version lacks the horror of the original material (except for the sensationalized sex scenes).

  • Sarah | January 1, 2012 2:29 AMReply

    4. Sony mismarketed the film.

    You mean naked pictures of Rooney Mara showing off her plumbed up pierced breasts on the poster and the other half naked advert pics in W magazine didn't get the (mostly female) fans of the books out in droves? Imagine that! I always thought women liked being patronized and having their favorite characters reduced to sexual objects for the male gaze. Love how even this week there is yet another picture of Rooney Mara on the cover of EW magazine and yes sir she looks like she isn't wearing a shirt. #cluelessSonyStudios. Good luck getting your franchsie off the ground guys. LOL.

  • Cafe Noir | December 31, 2011 4:44 PMReply

    Anal & oral rape, torture.. huuhh? I can get all that at home.

  • ELijah | December 31, 2011 12:48 PMReply

    Thought it was boring and empty of any soul. I liked the books and the Swedish version embraced Sweden - like an insiders tour of Stockholm. This one was like an insiders tour of the Sony lot..snooze for me. Noomi was superior - though Rooney held her own in an impatient to be a star way.

  • robert | December 31, 2011 3:38 AMReply

    it's simple - i wanted to see this film so badly, but i was with my family over the holidays, and not everyone is an adult. i had to see three other films (MI4, we bought a zoo, and sherlock) before i could get some adult friends together to see tattoo. i know others who wanted to see this but are in the same boat. they are not huge film lovers, though, so they missed the window, spent a lot of money on tickets for others flicks, and now will probably wait til video. it was ultimately really stupid counter-programming. would have crushed in february.

  • Sarah | January 1, 2012 2:38 AM

    That excuse doesn't wash. Anyone over the age of 17 can go watch this movie even during the holidays. Teenagers over age 17 don't need to go to the movies with their parents and they can drive themselves. Teens can make a movie successful just by themselves but they are staying away from this film. Many adult couples don't go to their parents for Christmas, what was keeping them away? What about Jews, Hindus, non-believers, etc. who don't celebrate Christmas? Or the adults in the family that can drop off older kids at one movie and go see an R-rated movie? See, may people out there with opportunity and time to have seen this movie but they chose not to.

  • cadavra | December 31, 2011 6:42 PM

    Ive just checked, and there's no law that says you can't go to a movie by yourself.

  • minnie | December 31, 2011 2:50 AMReply

    7 days after its opening the movie has made 32 million dollars. Isn't it too early to call it a flop? and it's an R rated movie, MI Alvin and Holmes are not. It's also long and that doesn't help. I really really dislike the swedish adapted version of the book and I'm really hoping the numbers will go up and sony will film the sequel. Most of the audience have liked the movie. For me Rooney is lisbeth and it would be tragic if we didn't get the sequel.

  • Joe | December 30, 2011 10:06 PMReply

    I can't disagree more. Tattoo does not disappoint. It was a fabulous movie. I have read the three books and have seen the Swedish films. Comparison? There is none. The Swedish versions are choppy and amateurish. It's like comparing a high school production to Broadway. Mara's portrayal of Lisabeth was exactly what I imagined. It is Noomi Rapace that disappointed. She came across as soft and vulnerable whereas Rooney Mara portrayed the hardened introverted goth that the book describes. I also couldn't help but notice the beauty of Mara's nude form relative to the shall we say disappointing breast-less figure of Rapace. Daniel Craig demonstrated a refreshing versatility. He can pull off a superb James Bond and then give an excellent performance in Tattoo as a quiet reflective antihero. As far as the timing of the release, one has to agree that it is hard to pit this type of film against Mission, Sherlock, etc. Thank you, thank you. It is so refreshing to have a movie choice that involves believable yet complex human drama. One gets so bored with the special effects dependent plotless films of today. Nothing blew up and no superhuman feats were shown. One's biggest fear is that Sony will not follow through with the second and third books. Bring them on! I will go see them at the theater and collect the Tattoo DVDs too!

  • WW | January 2, 2012 12:44 AM

    Lisbeth didn't have a chest until the third book but I guess this is something that just would never do in a Hollywood version.

  • mimi | December 31, 2011 2:53 AM

    That X 1000000000000 I checked the box office the numbers were up till wednesday.7 days after its opening the movie has grossed 32 million dollars even though it's an R rated movie. For me it's promising and I hope this weekend adults who already saw MI and HOlmes with their families will go to the movies on their own and enjoy the film.

  • Howard | December 31, 2011 12:20 AM

    You said everything that I wanted to say. Thank you.

  • Cate | December 30, 2011 8:09 PMReply

    I agree with Sergio's comment that it was an unnecessary remake. This weekend I saw the remake and then I watched the original again and I believe that Noomi Rapace did a better job than Rooney Mara. Looking in Noomi's eyes you saw a spark. Watching her performance you knew that this character is a survivor. Rooney's eyes were vacant. She seemed almost robotic. More time was spent on creating a look for the character (bleached eyebrows, cute haircut, and a fashionable wardrobe) and not enough time was spent breathing life into the title character.

  • mary | January 1, 2012 9:34 PM

    Actually, David Fincher said that he had seen the Swedish film before he read Steve Zaillian's script.

  • AS | January 1, 2012 5:58 PM

    @Mary Not at the time of filming.

  • mary | January 1, 2012 9:26 AM

    David Fincher said that he had seen the Swedish film.

  • AS | December 30, 2011 9:53 PM

    It's not a "remake." A remake implies that the film is based off of the pervious film, which it's not. Neither David Fincher, the film's director, nor Steve Zaillian, the screenwriter, have seen the Swedish film. Hence, not a "remake." Also, if you've read the book, you'd know that Rooney Mara's portrayal of Lisbeth Salander is much more accurate than Rapace's. Rapace was fierce and angry when she should have been cold and distant. She played the character as a super hero, not a real human being. Mara brought a vulnerability to the character, which not only stays true to the source material, but helps make her seem like an actual person, and not an action hero.

  • Sergio | December 30, 2011 10:19 AMReply

    $100 million? Really for what? The Social Network cost $40 million. They couldn't make Tattoo for the same budget?

    Besides which, it's the most unnecessary remake of the year. The Swedish version is far better and Noomi Rapace is much better(and sexier) than Mara in the role. In the Swedish version Salander is an avenging angel righting the wrongs suffered by women while Mara comes off more like a scared rabbit and the final sappy closing scene was totally laughable. Also I still believe that Fincher (Mr-90-takes-a-scene) has to be one of the most overrated directors working today. Everything looks pretty but there's no substance. I still say that his best film was Aliens there

  • ALS | June 25, 2013 3:17 PM

    Everyone who is saying the Swedish version of this movie is the far better version couldn't be more correct!! The Swedish version is amazing! IMO the Hollywood/Sony version was so lifeless and hard to follow, at no time did it engage with the audience watching. It appears as if Sony took the book at face value and then began constructing the most extreme movie version of the book based on cliff notes and not actually reading it. I have read all 3 books by the way and loved the series. If you haven't seen the Swedish version I highly recommend - it's available on netflix.

  • Sergio | December 30, 2011 12:01 PM

    You evidently have a hard on for anything "90 takes a scene" Fincher. Say what you want about me. Benjamin Button is a total bore, Seven is great up until Spacey shows up and rambles on and on, Social Network was about some spoiled rich kids trying to screw each over over (who cares? -Yeah I've heard it before it the movie about OUR generation. Thank God I'm older than you guys), Zodiac was a disappointment, The Game...does anyone remember THAT film, and Fight Club is unbearable, muddles mess with a truly laughable plot twist.

    Oh wait I forgot Panic Room. I like that film, but it's really just a remake of the B exploitation mid 60's thriller Lady in Cage with Olivia De Haviland and James Caan and even than that film was more suspenseful and shocking. Nope I'm still sticking with Aliens 3

  • AS | December 30, 2011 10:36 AM

    I was about to light into you for some of the ridiculous comments you made, but ultimately deemed it pointless when I read your final statement, which say's everything about your taste in movies.

  • Kevin | December 30, 2011 5:04 AMReply

    Everything got hurt by having too many titles in the market, but if you look at where Dragon did gross well its NY, LA, DC, SF, SEA and handful of other large cities (Minneapolis did well)
    Compare to War Horse? (Phoenix, Salt lake, Houston, Denver, Dallas, Kansas City)
    I think middle America smelled the "Euro" on it and chose to go elsewhere...

  • Louise | December 30, 2011 12:17 AMReply

    I read all three books and saw all three Swedish movie adaptations of the books. The Swedish Lisbeth and Blomkist were exactly like I had in my mind. Look at Rooney in the photo in this article. She looks so soft, so bored. That is not a Lisbeth look at all. Craig isn't how Bomkist was described in the book. The trailers were all flash and lights and no attempt to give me any idea of what the movie was about (despite that I had read the books.)

  • KitCon | December 29, 2011 9:10 PMReply

    Dragon Tattoo will probably have good legs. Too soon to write it off as a disappointment.

  • mary | December 29, 2011 8:03 PMReply

    I don't think the running time is an issue. After all, the running time of "Avatar" is 2 hrs. 40 min.

  • cadavra | December 29, 2011 7:28 PMReply

    Another consideration, as I've said elsewhere: Too Soon. Most people, as noted below, saw the film within the past year at home. Had Sony waited say, two years, the original would have begun to fade from memory and people would be ready to revisit it. This really is no different from LET ME IN or even DEATH AT A FUNERAL--you just don't remake a film a year or two after the original, regardless of the reason.

  • PS | December 29, 2011 7:27 PMReply

    No doubt the very adult content of the film meant that families couldn't go together on a holiday weekend....can't take the kids to it, grandma might not be interested or find it off-putting, might have better long term prospects once the holidays are over...January is a good month to catch up on existing releases because the new releases are usually terrible.

  • Larisa | December 29, 2011 7:24 PMReply

    EDIT: When I wrote "Sony has no clue how to market to North American audiences", I forgot to clarify: "unless it's a brainless action movie or teen comedy." That dumbed down marketing blueprint is all they know; anything outside that demographic is ruined by the Sony marketing flacks.

  • lostpevensie | December 29, 2011 7:13 PMReply

    You forget one. The hero is a woman and not a conventional
    beautiful sexy one. She is a damaged child. That's too scary
    for American audiences.

  • Larisa | December 29, 2011 6:48 PMReply

    It's the fault of Sony Marketing & Publicity, plain and simple. While they think they're always so clever and innovative, it's really just lazy and arrogant hubris. Yet again, Sony has screwed up what could've been a potentially lucrative franchise. Fire the whole lot of them, I say. They really have no clue how to market to North American audiences.

  • CD | December 29, 2011 6:46 PMReply


  • Maera | December 29, 2011 6:09 PMReply

    Hey! I have ADD and I like slower, well-paced movies :) I have been looking forward to this movie, wasn't sure if I should read the books first, but from the comments here on the script I'm thinking that may not be necessarily the better plan. The holidays are an incredibly busy time for me and when I do get to go out for a movie I'd like something a bit more light or fantastical at this time of year. So I saw Hugo instead and it was wonderful. Have to say that Sony's timing on the release for Dragon Tattoo was definitely a bad idea, but I wish the studios would find a more sophisticated way of measuring a film's success. Was it Gone with the Wind that has the highest sales ever? But back then, movies played more than a few weeks... and the only way you could see movies was at the theatre. Time to catch up with the new millenia!

  • Ma'at | December 29, 2011 6:08 PMReply

    It's mostly simple economics. As someone said here, most that are interested in it read the book and saw the original. And with the entertainment dollar squeezed, I'll go see something else and wait for this on DVD.

    4 people at movies in L.A. = $100. Why on Earth would I spend that on a remake two years later when I saw the original and read the book? It's not like it's the only movie out there that is "good".

  • Leah | December 30, 2011 5:46 PM

    Exactly !

  • Jean Robie | December 29, 2011 6:03 PMReply

    Whenever a movie doesn't succeed, Hollywood's first impulse is to blame marketing. Its second is to blame the genre. But what if the movie just isn't that great? "The Social Network" came as an illumination because no one associated Fincher with that kind of material. But everyone associates him with the kind of material "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" represents and what he delivered was what one would expect--and nothing more. I'm not saying he phoned it in, but the movie doesn't push outside the envelope which is exactly what everyone was hoping for.

  • Marc | December 29, 2011 5:52 PMReply

    Fincher and Zaillian have treated the material with respect and care. I am more shocked at how this film is being written off as a cheap dumber down version of this story. One of Zaillian's major changes is aligning the stories of Blomkvist parade picture reveal with Salander's revenge scene. Is it heresy to say that this improvement over the book and Swedish film? The change it gives the characters, who are now at the same time taking control of their situations, a dramatic sweep and connection that had previously been missing. At times the US version script is more loyal to the book beyond just the original language. The characters are given space to breath and inhabit a real world.

    Some people have been defending the Swedish version to the death like some indie band. But the fact of the matter is some popular bands like Radiohead are good. Fincher has never been better. In Bjurman's office, one of the cutaways is a closeup behind Salender's ear with Bjurman's blurry, threatening hand the background. The frame focused on the her own self-inflicted piercing of her own flesh. If given time, the images like these are as haunting as any put Fincher has ever put on screen and rewarding for any lover of this story. .

  • Rohan | December 29, 2011 5:24 PMReply

    Craig's Bond films are not cheesy like other Bond films. It's good they don't have those stupid little gadgets anymore. Craig as BOND is perfect. Looking forward to SKYFALL. And, those who cannot stand him as Bond, news flash! - he is going to be Bond for a while now. He is staying as Bond. Ah!

  • run | December 29, 2011 9:45 PM

    you are so bias

  • Dw Dunphy | December 29, 2011 7:25 PM

    So Matt Smith isn't quitting Dr. Who to become the next Bond, you say...

  • Skippy | December 29, 2011 4:51 PMReply

    I know a pretty decent amount of people who read the books and saw the Swedish movies on video. Money's tight to begin with, and we just finished a period of the year when many have had to spend a lot of money on gifts, travel, etc. I think there's probably a significant chunk of the book's audience (the built in audience the studio assumed would come see it) who are saying right now, "Yeah, I guess I'd like to see it but I did read the book, saw the Swedish movie, and I'm a little tapped out right now, so I think I can wait for this on video as well." They might be thinking that if they're going to spend any of the money they have left right now they might spend it on something completely new.

  • Dave | December 29, 2011 4:20 PMReply

    American audiences always have had ADD when it comes to movies. I thought this movie was really well done and is a must see. Rooney Mara played the part perfectly as was described in the book.

  • Riley | December 29, 2011 4:07 PMReply

    I saw this film a few days ago. It was horrible. It's too long, it's boring, and the story was hard to follow. The sexual violence was hard to watch. And why do people keep saying Daniel is "good looking?" He is very underwhelming. Rooney Mara was good, and I'd like to see her in a decent film.

  • moo | December 29, 2011 9:48 PM

    2 girls were crying and left shortly after..I ask we really need that kind of Movie..some stories are better left in a Book or made almost bearable like the swedish version. Fincher shouldn't have touched this

  • The Great Congo | December 29, 2011 3:37 PMReply

    I was reluctant to see it because I thought Rooney Mara came off as a complete A-hole in all her interviews. Team Rapace :)

  • Jen | December 29, 2011 3:06 PMReply

    I saw it in Seattle the day after Christmas and the entire theater was sold out. I have seen the Swedish versions, but enjoyed this re-telling of the story. I imagine it would be more fun had I not been familiar with the plot. I thought the film worth seeing just on the basis of Mara's performance. I hope they make the sequel, but certainly spending 100 million on this film seems over-the-top. I imagine it could be made for 15 million and not lose any of its cinematic value.

  • Chris | December 29, 2011 2:56 PMReply

    You, and others, are seriously underestimating the exposure of the Swedish version. Yes, it made only $10 million in American theaters, but many many people I know in their 20s/30s who hadn't even read the book and ordinarily don't watch foreign language movies bought/rented the DVD or Blu-ray or watched the original on Netflix streaming. This is the audience that is not showing up for the Fincher film.

    And side note, but the Swedish film is better. Not to judge, but most of the people who seem to be trashing it by default (including many I've talked to) are the kind of American viewers who can't relate to any foreign film regardless of its quality.

  • Elizabeth | December 30, 2011 5:51 PM

    You said everything I wanted to say.

  • Sferd | December 29, 2011 10:21 PM

    I see foreign and 'arthouse' films regularly. I saw the first 2 Swedish films (still have to rent the 3rd) both the American and Swedish versions were compelling, but I agree that the remake came too soon. The original was too fresh in my mind. Also, (this may sound stupid) I had trouble understanding the dialog in the remake. English spoken with a Swedish accent is tougher to comprehend than subtitles. I felt that I missed some key plot points--especially around the changed ending.

  • man | December 29, 2011 9:57 PM

    if you understand swedish , you perfectly understand that Noomi was superior , the scene at the court , when she dressed up like the real "REBELL" left me speechless. .The emotion flowing from her at this scene were breathtaking. Her Transformation into that bad as$ person was much more acknowledgeable , not like Mara, who is already in her disguise through the whole Movie. And at the end when salander hides her identity ,Noomi just had it all together. well anyway I think they both tried their best

  • JD | December 29, 2011 4:19 PM

    Your generalization is completely unfounded. I saw all of the Swedish films when they came out and I watch foreign language films on a weakly basis. I, unlike you, am able to judge a film objectively, based on its artistic merits, regardless of wether the film has subtitles or not. The Swedish film is far from perfect and full of cliches. I've seen Fincher's version twice now and it's much better than Oplev's version on all accounts. It seems to be screamingly obvious that many people, like yourself, feel more intelligent and intellectual if they can go around spouting off about how much they "appreciate" foreign films and talk about how American films are rubbish. Your comment is an old and tired one.

  • Vino | December 29, 2011 2:49 PMReply

    The R rating has nada to do with low b.o. It's n o t an interesting or "fun" movie.
    Is this difficult to grasp??? Corny-old hat plot embroidered x sexual abuse & torture.
    So, it flops. Is this difficult to grasp?

  • belle | December 29, 2011 2:28 PMReply

    The original and sequels have been on Netflix instant watch for at least a year. That's how I saw it and I'm sure others have too. The trailer for the new one showed scenes that were so similar to the original I figured there was no point in seeing it. And unless the new ending changes who done it...I already know who done it. I'm more likely to watch the original sequels on Netflix than see the English language versions in theatres.

  • AS | December 29, 2011 2:46 PM

    Then you're missing out on a great film.

  • AS | December 29, 2011 2:21 PMReply

    Damn shame this isn't performing as well is it might have. It's a great film and far superior to the Swedish version. Oh well, American's get the movies they deserve. If they'd rather go and sit through a FOURTH Mission Impossible, then they'll get number 5. You went to go see the terrible Sherlock Holmes 2 did ya? Good, cause here comes number 3! But The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Directed by David Fincher, written by Steve Zaillian featuring a solid performance from Craig and a brilliant one by Mara? Fuck that! BORING! Bring on the popcorn trash!!!! Well, give the people want they want..... here it comes!

  • Elizabeth | December 30, 2011 5:59 PM

    I read the books, watched the Swedish version on Netflix (all three). I cannot compare Noomi vs Rooney until I see the David Fincher version. Which I will see when it is on DVD. In this economy, if I am to spend money on a movie I'd rather watch new material than pay for something I can watch for free on Netflix instantly at any time. That is what it comes down to ultimately, regardless of the quality of the film and that is why this film is failing to set the BO on fire. Too soon for the remake.

  • Chelle | December 30, 2011 6:10 AM

    I couldn't agree more...Americans get exactly what they deserve. The simple reason I haven't seen this film yet is because I worked during the holidays, was busy with cooking, etc. I have precious little money and won't start work again until March but I've had 10 bucks earmarked to see this film for ages...and tomorrow's the day. This will be the ONLY money I spend on seeing a film at a major cineplex for the entire year, much less the holiday movie season. I read all 3 books before seeing the Swedish films and although I loved them, I was secretly disappointed. Most people I know saw the films but haven't read the books. My own boyfriend won't go with me to see Fincher's film because of a blind devotion to the original! So tomorrow I'll go alone, with my 10 bucks and a glimmer of hope against all high expectations. Regardless, part of me is suffering the artless cineplex arena as a small gesture of a quasi-Occupy Hollywood statement...make smarter films with fine actors and well-written scripts and we will go see them.

  • Alch | December 29, 2011 5:56 PM

    Best freaking comment ever!
    It's the only film out right now that really seems worth going to see!

  • snowman | December 29, 2011 2:16 PMReply

    Sorry Anne I have to say this is an absolute disappointment of a remake, given the fine pedigree behind the film. Yes, Fincher's version is arguably a better film in general but suffers the very same problems as the Swedish version/the book. The payoff was so little that the remake is hardly justified. The only reason for the remake is so that the mainstream American audience wouldn't have to read the Swedish subtitles.

  • mitkid | December 29, 2011 2:16 PMReply

    Agree completely about the release date. I've seen it, enjoyed it, thought it was well done. I also always see a movie on Christmas Day, but saw something else, chose not to see Dragon Tattoo until a few days later, just not a Christmas movie.

  • Vince | December 29, 2011 2:04 PMReply

    WRONG Danny is a terrible Bond he and the producers and writers have made Bond into a dull
    Bourne clone. 007 used to be fun now its a labor sitting though one

  • HÃ¥kansson | December 29, 2011 2:30 PM

    Craig made a great Bond whether you hate him, or not. Many people love him b/c they earned most a money so far at B.O.

  • Eric | December 29, 2011 1:53 PMReply

    Sorry, Ms.THOMPSON. I get tired of the consideration that is a stereotype these days. Did you quote this from the board on IMDb?

  • Mark Rabinowitz | December 29, 2011 1:51 PMReply

    @Connor: Americans do read. The book was fantastically popular, here. Why can't you watch and appreciate both versions? This is not a remake of the Swedish film, it's an English-language (though still very Swedish-feeling) version of the book.

  • Mark Rabinowitz | December 29, 2011 1:48 PMReply

    I agree, but do you think it will have legs? It's still 4th in the weekly B.O. with a respectable $8,200+ average. Not spectacular, but among films with over 2,000 engagements. it's 3rd in average and the only films above it are MI:GP, Sherlock Holmes and the Chipmunks.

    What do you reckon it will end up at?

  • Toby Leonard | December 29, 2011 1:37 PMReply

    How about plain-old burnout?

  • Connor | December 29, 2011 1:05 PMReply

    Love these points. I haven't seen it and not likely to mainly because We already have the Swedish version, so why can't Hollywood and Americans make the effort to read for once ?

  • gabi | December 29, 2011 10:05 PM

    a story stays a story...very few will see a new adaption when there is already a conclusion in that many will wait till its on the moviechannel because the swedish version is very much in everybody's matter what......i know what happenend..will i spend my money to see a gruesome story better watch " i bought a Zoo" least I have enough material to laugh my head off...and be happy

  • C | December 29, 2011 3:07 PM

    Exactly @Oscar and I want to see it but im 16 years old and I can't see cuz its rated r and u have to be 17 so I either have to sneak in or convict my mom to buy me a ticket_

  • Oscar | December 29, 2011 2:14 PM

    I'm from Sweden and I thought the American version was a vastly superior film. It's not so much a remake as a new adaptation in a different language. What I appreciate about it is that it's different though. I have not seen Let Me In, but everyone seems to agree that it's the exact same film as Let the Right One In with hollywood-sfx. That to me is kind of pointless.

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo plays quite different from "Män som Hatar Kvinnor" though and while it's part of the same vehicle, it's a different beast entirely. Fincher's attention to detail and the quality his films ooze, puts him at the top of any auteur-list. This film, just like Zodiac and Social Network, feature the best of the best in every category: the script is fantastic, the soundtrack courtesy of Mr. Reznor and Mr. Ross is top-notch once again, the cinematography is ace and miles ahead of the Swedish version, the pacing is far better as well and he spends more time elaborating the characters, and the acting in particular makes you draw one single conclusion: David Fincher is an actor's director. This performance will do exactly the same for Rooney Mara's career as it did for Noomi Rapace. She is at the top of her game, and she means business.

    Lastly, Fincher did change a few things to make the movie play better so don't be so sure you know exactly how it will pan out. If you don't see it, I won't mind but it is a fantastic movie. The one time a "remake" actually improves upon the original seems to be the time when people are finally fed up with them.

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