There was a time when Twentieth Century Fox seemed eager to get right to work on a sequel to their English-language adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, with an eye for getting the film out sometime in late 2012/early 2013. Well, here we are smack in the middle of that initially projected timeframe and despite screenwriter Steve Zaillian having turned in a script that the studio likes, there has been no forward movement on the project.
So what’s the holdup? According to a story in the Hollywood Reporter, the delay all boils down to money. Specifically, although the film managed to make $233 million worldwide against its $90 million budget, the film is only considered by the studio as a modest success. And while they want to continue with their adaption of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling trilogy, they also want to do it in a way that might maximize their profits a bit more – i.e., they want to make the next film cheaper.
The chief stumbling block in decreasing the film’s budget is one of its stars, Daniel Craig. The Hollywood Reporter’s story alleges that the actor feels he is due a pay raise, especially in light of his latest James bond film Skyfall passing the $1 billion mark in worldwide box office receipts. And if Craig doesn’t budge in his salary demands the Reporter is saying that the studio is contemplating writing his character of investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist out of the film entirely.
While it sounds like sacrilege to fans of the original novels and their Swedish film adaptions, excising Blomkvist from the film doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to do. For much of the novel’s narrative the reporter is separated from the books’ heroine on Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), and when it came time for Zaillian to start in on the adaption there was some speculation that he would actually change some plotlines to give them more onscreen time together. Would it be too hard for him to nudge things in the opposite direction and turn it into a solo Lisbeth film?
The only problem here is that Fox has already paid out a mid-seven figures sum to Zaillian for his work on the screenplay and would have to write another check to have him do another draft. Currently, Zaillian is working on the HBO series Criminal Justice, starring James Gandolfini, so there is a question of his availability even if Fox is willing to open up their wallets.
Meanwhile, while he waits for this impasse to be solved, director David Fincher is still working at developing a number of other projects. He recently signed on for an adaption of Gillian Flynn’s psychological thriller novel Gone Girl, though it is being reported that Flynn’s screenplay of her own book has a ways to go before being camera ready. Another Fincher project that does have a screenplay polished enough for production is his take on Jules Verne’s classic novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, though the director and studio Disney are not seeing eye-to-eye on the budget.