When Is a Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Sequel Not a Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Sequel?

By  · Published on November 6th, 2015

Sony Pictures

When it skips two books to adapt the fourth in the series with a rebooted cast, apparently.

David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was meant from the beginning to be the first in a trilogy, but a mixed reception from critics and audiences along with a modestly perceived box-office haul has kept a follow-up from getting a green light. Apparently expectations were that a hard-R adult thriller running nearly three hours long should have earned more than $230 million worldwide. Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy of novels had already been adapted into Swedish films, but Fincher’s take on the first volume opened the story up to viewers unwilling/unable to read subtitles. It’s also not a bad film. Cold, dark, and brutally attractive, but not bad.

The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second book in the series, but while Sony has already paid a reportedly obscene amount for a script from Steven Zaillian other production costs kept the production on hold. Fincher doesn’t come cheap, and stars Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara would both be expecting a healthy raise, so the studio is taking a different tact all together.

Per The Wrap, Sony is jumping to the fourth book – the recently published The Girl in the Spider’s Web – and looking to recast both lead roles. Larsson died having only completed the first three of a proposed ten-book series featuring the characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, but author David Lagercrantz was chosen to continue the story forward.

Sony has already tasked Steven Knight (Locke, Burnt) with writing the script, and while casting is still a way’s off it appears producers Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal want Alicia Vikander to play Salander.

No one who’s seen Ex Machina or this summer’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. could possibly be against the idea of more Vikander onscreen, but it seems counter-intuitive to replace Mara after she delivered an Oscar-nominated performance in the first film. Of course it’s possible Mara isn’t interested in a Fincher-less sequel, or maybe Sony is just teasing recasting the role in order to drive her price down, but at this early stage it seems like an odd move.

The jump from book one to book four seems equally misguided on its surface, but there’s actually a bit of logic to it. For one thing the new novel is still a current bestseller, and unlike books two and three it has yet to be adapted to the screen in any language meaning Sony’s film could be the first. There’s also a certain interchangeability between the novels. I haven’t read Spider’s Web yet, but both Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest feature standalone plots running alongside Salander’s developing story. There’s no reason her thread couldn’t be readjusted to fit the stories in a different order.

What do you think? Should Sony stick with adapting the books sequentially or drop it all together? And if they do move forward with Vikander who do you want to see cast opposite her?

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.