While the box office for Sony’s English-language adaption of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo might not have been as big as expected given the popularity of the Stieg Larsson’s source novel and the critical praise that the original Swedish adaption has received, but the studio has decided to continue forward with adapting the two other books in Larsson’s Millennium series.
As it stands now, the David Fincher-directed adaption is projected to barely break the $100 million mark for ticket sales. (It’s current box office take is currently just shy of $77 million according to Box Office Mojo). Compared to the film’s production costs and the intensive marketing campaign the studio bankrolled, that’s not enough for Sony to break even. However, the film is just starting to roll out into foreign markets and the studio brass is bullish that the film will clear more in the neighborhood of $300 million by the time that is completed.
Banking on that outcome, Sony has already put to work Dragon Tattoo screenwriter Steve Zaillian on adapting the second book in Larsson’s trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire with an eye towards getting the film before cameras by late 2012 or early 2013.
Of course, there are a number of unknowns concerning the project and the presumably eventual adaption of the third book, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest. There have been rumors that the two films would shoot back-to-back, though the studio has apparently not made that decision. More interesting, is the fact that it looks like Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher’s participation in the second or even third film has not yet been determined. Presumably when he signed on for the first film there was an option in his contract for all three, but it remains to be seen whether Sony will exercise that option or not.
As to the script for Fire, Deadline is reporting that Zaillian is making some changes to the original book’s plot line, reportedly to bring titular hero Lisbeth Salander into more focus in the film than she is in the Larsson’s original novel, which keeps her separated from hero Mikael Blomkvist for much of its plot. I would assume that Zaillian is looking at ways to have the two working more together through his screenplay.
Can the studio do better with a sequel? Although rare, it is not unheard of. Deadline’s report hints that the studio realizes that it might have made a mistake releasing a dark, R-rated film during the year-end, holiday season, quoting an anonymous studio as exec as saying “It was too cocky of us. We might think about that next time.” I have a feeling that the English-version of Dragon Tattoo will really find its audience once it hits home video later this year thanks to some award season wins and that income from DVD and blu-ray sales will help seal the deal for Sony to give the go-ahead on getting the sequels in front of the cameras as quickly as they can.