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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Millenium Trilogy Movie Rights Go to Sony, Rudin

by Anne Thompson
December 15, 2009 8:05 AM
27 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

On a recent trip to London, I picked up a copy of the U.K. hardcover edition of the third installment of the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and have been lending it to my friends ever since. (It won't be published stateside until May.) The three books are addictive, globally popular (they have sold more than 20 million copies), and have spawned a Swedish film trilogy that is also scoring at the worldwide box office. The subtitled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo arrives stateside via Music Box on March 19. (A trailer is on the jump.)

Naturally, Hollywood is keenly interested in an English-language remake. Complex negotiations have been under way since last summer. The rights are no longer bogged down by issues surrounding the contested estate of the late author, who died of a sudden heart attack in 2004 just before the publication of the first novel. Under frequent death threats for his investigative journalism, he tried to protect his common law wife by not marrying her. But he never left a will. Eva Gabrielsson, who has no rights under Swedish law, has been hanging on to his laptop and its contents, which could hold the seeds for more sequels. But she doesn't own those rights.

Thompson on Hollywood

The existence of the Swedish film trilogy complicates matters, but closing the complicated deal is mainly about getting rights sorted. A Millenium Trilogy movie deal at Sony Pictures is expected to be announced shortly with producer Scott Rudin and writer Steve Zaillian. Rumors swirl of interest from the likes of Quentin Tarantino (denied by his agent) and George Clooney, who seems like perfect casting for muckraking journalist womanizer Mikael Blomkvist.

Who should play Blomkvist and his sidekick, bisexual tattooed hacker detective Lisbeth Salander, one of the great ass-kicking heroines of modern fiction?

Thompson on Hollywood

This could be a huge global franchise. But for Rudin & Co. it will be a challenge to make commercial movies out of these sprawling, intelligent, well-plotted and reported books that dig into the intersection of journalism, business and politics. Ideally, they will set them in Sweden, with European actors speaking English. (Liam Neeson or Stellan Skarsgard come to mind for Blomkvist.) The danger is that even Hollywood's best and brightest could water this rich material down, turning it into another disappointing trans-Atlantic cultural misfire like Brothers or State of Play.

Salander is also a tough one to cast. Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart and Natalie Portman come to mind. But they could also cast a young European unknown capable of surprising audiences.

Swedish film production company Yellow Bird, which produced three Swedish films based on the Millennium Trilogy with funding from Nordisk Film, is in control of the film rights and is repped by UTA's Kassie Evashevski; attorney Linda Lichter is nailing down legal details.

27 Comments

  • dflas | June 18, 2010 2:44 AMReply

    Never let Kristen Stewart get near that role. I would not go see the movie if I knew she was going to have the part. I think they need to go with someone unknown.
    Kristen Stewart is too popular, and even though she has the look, I don't think she has the acting skills right now to play a character and make it feel like Lisbeth Salander.
    Katherine Moennig or Ellen Page would be good choices. I could see Ellen because she's small and has fierce skills. And Katherine looks the part.

  • Gman | May 5, 2010 1:37 AMReply

    I read and liked the first book in the series, and I have seen the first of the movie's as well. Honestly, I liked the movie, but there were bits of it that just felt wrong somehow.

    Anyway, this chat is probably dead by now, but I would love to see Ellen Page in the role of Lisbeth.

    Forget about Juno; go watch hard candy, or even the tracey fragments (if you can get past the fractured screen)...never have I seen an actor so capable of showing so much rage and pain, with nothing more than her eyes. She may be small, but she can play terrifying, and I dont doubt that if she had the role, she would own it.

    Having seen most of the movies she has made since she hit 16, I can honestly say that no matter what the overall qaulity of the movies may have been (and to be honest, there is only one I disliked), she throws herself 110% into every role.

  • NoomFan | March 20, 2010 2:19 AMReply

    The novel by stieg is awsome ...but i watched the movie the girl with dragon tattoo....very good job...what a thrill...and the lisbeth aka noomi rapace is realy brilliant.......chilling...

  • fandart | March 18, 2010 11:59 AMReply

    I think Kristen Stewart. Her face is how hers is suppose to be. She is also going to do a great job in The Runaways. She can do it. Please don't let Natalie Portman do it though. My second choice would be Ellen Page.

  • crystal | March 18, 2010 11:54 AMReply

    I think Kristen Stewart should play Lisbeth. I watched the movies and they have to have someone that can act mean and isolated like her. I think Kristen could do it because she looks mean and has already had black hair in a movie. Also Ellen Page would be good, because she can act really good. But definetly not Natalie Portman, because she looks to sweet.

  • tbp | March 16, 2010 3:19 AMReply

    Katherine Moennig for Lisbeth. I imagined her as Lisbeth as I read the first two books. Blomqvist is a tough call. I think Clooney might be too good looking How about Robert Downey Jr? I think he'd be a great fit. He can play that obsessive loner well... definitely Giamatti for Martin Vanger....

  • Don Grimes | March 12, 2010 3:40 AMReply

    I love these books. I've read the first two, so far. I hope Hollywood stays as close to the books as possible. I really like Liam Neeson and George Clooney is pretty good, but Stellan Skarsgard fits the image in my mind from the book so perfectly. He definitely gets my vote. If his name shows up as Blomkvisk, I'll be first in line at the box office.

  • A-K | February 9, 2010 2:03 AMReply

    The Stath and Fox would be so hilarious! Kristen Stewart is so overrated. Here in the UK we don't assume that the biggest teenage Box Office pullers are the biggest talent. 1st choice Ellen Page but this could be Portman's big opportunity to live up to all the promise from Leon (The Professional). If Sony do this right there's a guaranteed Oscar nomination for the Salander role. Ron Howard should direct.

  • Brian | February 8, 2010 3:41 AMReply

    Jason Statham and Megan Fox! 'Nuff said.

  • A-Kam | February 8, 2010 2:43 AMReply

    Ellen Page for Salander! Salander's 4'9 frame and bony boyish looks (which could be mistaken for a 15 yr old boy) become a very important part of the plot in the amazing final book. Page has an adrogenous beauty similar to Salander's. She has proved she has depth and ability aside from comedies like Whip It and Juno in Hard Candy (2005). Natalie Portman would also do well but she's too classically beautiful to make a convincing Salander. I'm not a fan of him but George Clooney could pull off Blomqvist's character. I think an English language adaptation should be set in Canada.

  • Sara | January 31, 2010 12:46 AMReply

    Please please please..anyone but Kristen Stewart!

  • karen | January 9, 2010 2:40 AMReply

    I was thinking about Katherine Moennig. She is the right age and this is something she would do well in.

  • TCGWDTFAN | January 8, 2010 2:18 AMReply

    It has to be Natalie Portman!! She has the depth to play Salander. Plus her looks are already foreign - assuming they are going to have it take place in Sweden. As for Blomkvist... How about Daniel Craig?

  • jen jen | December 20, 2009 5:21 AMReply

    I agree with another poster, Clooney is just over exposed. I would just see George is he was doing it. Don't think it needs to be Russell either. I'll have to think on that one. Definitely Kristen Stewart though. Her face can tell any story. We have only seen the tip of the iceburg with that girl and she has courage and passion. I agree she is awfully young, but as the big dogs in that industry say, the girl is 19 going on 35. Her Indie films have shown us some major versatility and The CakeEaters showed us where she is willing to go. After watching the Swed trailer I can just see her kicking that out of the ballpark. The Runaways will definitely have the common man thinking- yeah she would be perfect!

  • ginger Liu | December 17, 2009 7:54 AMReply

    When I think of a kick ass woman, a twenty-something doesn't come to mind. I'm a fan of Kristen Stewart but a kick ass woman is two things -physical strength and a strong mind. A kick ass woman to me is someone over 30 -she's lived, she doesn't suffer fools and she's had her heart broken -she's one tough cookie.
    I hope it's a European actress.

  • Bill_the_Bear | December 17, 2009 4:04 AMReply

    The first of the Swedish Millenium films has played in North America...in Québec, where it ran in theatres through this past summer. (In fact, the DVD came out late last month.)

    Millenium 2 will be opening in Québec on Christmas Day; Millenium 3 is schedules to open in Québec on March 19, 2010.

    Why so soon here? The books were published much earlier in French than in English (2006 & 2007), so they had time to become cult favourites here before anglophone North Americans had heard of them.

  • moviefan | December 16, 2009 9:53 AMReply

    Anne, I don't know if you liked State of Play or not, but Crowe did a wonderful job portraying a journalist, a journalist who is decent at his core. Of course that may be a reason he might not even be interested in playing Blomqvist. Crowe has also been excellent at other characters like Jim Braddock and Jeff Wigand, both men 'decent at his core'.

    I could see Clooney as a journalist and a womanizer, but I also see Blomqvist as somewhat edgy, and I just don't see George as edgy.

    Of course we have no idea how this might be Americanized and I fear it could be sanitized within an inch of its life. We shall see. Fincher would be a very good choice if they go with an American director.

  • Anne Thompson | December 16, 2009 6:32 AMReply

    John, I wasn't that thrilled by the first Dragon Tattoo movie. The characters thrill me more than the plot. I like the second book the best, because it's Salander's story. I do want to see that movie.

    As for director, it should be a European. I feel so strongly about this. The books are so compelling because-- while there are certainly fantasy elements-- the world feels reported, observed, real. Everyone belongs there. Plop American movie stars into that milieu and it could feel fake.

    On the other hand, David Fincher comes to mind...

    As for Clooney vs. Crowe, i admire both these guys as actors. Crowe could play Blomkvist, but the guy is decent at his core (BTW I took out word "rakish" and replaced with "womanizer"), the way Clooney is. You can believe that Clooney loves journalism.

  • DavidC | December 16, 2009 5:10 AMReply

    One of the cool things about the WSJ clip is finally hearing a Swedish person say her name, with the accent on the middle vowel: SalANder.

  • rgm | December 16, 2009 2:36 AMReply

    Cote de Pablo who plays Ziva David in NCIS on TV should be considered for the Salander role.

  • Sean | December 16, 2009 1:40 AMReply

    Definately NOT Stewart...unknown please.

  • moviefan | December 16, 2009 1:28 AMReply

    I'm with mimi. State of Play may have not burned up the B.O. but it was definitely not a misfire, and got very good critical reviews, actually. Crowe was excellent, as were Mirren and Bateman. Even Affleck did a good job. I also liked the U.S. version of Brothers, and I did see the Danish one.

    I know Anne just loves her Clooney and not so much Crowe but I, for one, am sick of seeing George, he's headed for over-exposure IMO. I definitely do not see him as Blomqvist. I didn't see Blomqvist as 'rakish' when I was reading the books. I didn't picture Crowe either, but he could do the part most excellently, I think.

  • mimi | December 16, 2009 1:04 AMReply

    Excuse me? State of Play was not a misfire... it was a well received adaptation, a critical success at least. Russell Crowe was so good, he's the only actor I can imagine as Mikael Blomkvist. Clooney is too slick and smug.

  • DavidC | December 16, 2009 12:28 AMReply

    Tarantino, yes. Or Soderberg.

    Kenneth Branagh.

    Of all the Amercian options probably Stewart.

    Though I'm sure there's some boney Dutch or German girl who would be the ideal Salader, if Rudin and co. would make the ffort to do a search.

  • john | December 15, 2009 11:00 AMReply

    why don't they get niels arden oplev to direct? He did the swedish trilogy and now lives in the US. Maye he's too smart...

  • mitkid | December 15, 2009 10:41 AMReply

    I say go for the unknown, although it's such a great role (Lisbeth Salender) I'm sure there will be huge interest.

  • Lillibet | December 15, 2009 9:22 AMReply

    great ass-kicking heroines of modern fiction

    Got to be Kristen Stewart, wait until you see what she is like in The Runaways then you will see this is her role.

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