By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 24, 2010 at 6:35AM
On the eve of the stateside publication of the third installment in the Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which goes on sale Tuesday, this exhaustive Sunday NY Times feature on the late author Stieg Larsson promised new news about the fourth and fifth novels on his laptop--still possessed by his surviving partner, Eva Gabrielsson, who he never married--but it's mostly a compendium of everything we already knew. Charles McGrath does talk to the estranged Gabrielsson, who hints at a strong role in editing Larsson's manuscripts, as well as Larsson's father and brother, who inherited his estate and are estranged from Gabrielsson. One thinks they'll make up, the other doesn't.
The Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (with a Tomatometer rating of 85 %) grossed $90 million overseas and almost $6 million domestically, which qualifies as a foreign-language hit. I'm invited to see the second installment, The Girl Who Played with Fire (this time directed by Daniel Alfredson), which Music Box will open in NY and Chicago on July 2 and July 9 in Los Angeles. It's by far the best of the three books (which have sold an estimated 40 million copies worldwide over four years), because it centers on Lisbeth Salander, who is played in the three films by Naomi Rapace, who does not want to reprise the role in the Hollywood remake. The NYT traces her bloodlines to another Scandinavian heroine: Pippi Longstocking.
I harbor hopes that Sony's new Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, produced by Scott Rudin and directed by David Fincher, will be an improvement on the Swedish version. Screenwriter Steve Zaillian has set the story in Sweden with a focus on tough, bisexual hacker/sleuth Salander; he's due to hand in his latest draft on June 1, at which point Brad Pitt will get a crack at deciding whether he wants to star. Will he have to play it with a Swedish accent? He's so American. He's the right age and could handle the sexy womanizing role of muckraking journalist Mikael Blomkvist. But I still think the casting should be European playing Scandinavian. There are great parts for the likes of Jared Harris, Ben Kingsley, Liam Neeson, Max Von Sydow, Stellan Skarsgard, and my current fave Mads Mikkelson.
But Salander is key. And Brit Carey Mulligan is better casting than any American girl would be.
Rudin tells McGrath that Sony owns the rights to the first three books, not to anything else. But a new contract could free the characters to exist free from Larsson's writing, James Bond-style.