Sony Pictures is still had at work developing a sequel to their 2011 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but their plans do not include titular star Rooney Mara, co-star Daniel Craig or director David Fincher.
The Wrap is reporting that producers Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal are instead looking at Alicia Vikander to step into the role of anti-social computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. Fincher and Craig are also unlikely to return.
Initially, the studio had been developing the second book in Swedish author Stieg Larsson‘s Millennium series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, with screenwriter Steve Zaillian receiving a hefty seven-figure check to adapt the novel. But now the studio has reportedly moved on to the fourth book in the series, The Girl In The Spider’s Web, and is currently in negotiations with Stephen Knight to handle the script. Sony would then produce Fire if Spiders’ Web does well at the box office.
Once Knight’s screenplay is in hand, the producers will begin the casting process in earnest.
Vikander’s career has been on the rise this year, starting with the rave reviews she got last spring for Ex Machina. She is currently filming the next Jason Bourne film with Matt Damon but has a handful of dramas set for release between now and when that film hits theaters next smmer. That she is being considered for the role of Lisbeth is testimony as to the studio’s belief that her star power can help carry the film.
It should be noted that Spider’s Web was written by David Lagercrantz, who is continuing the Millennium series following Larsson’s death in 2004. Some fans of the original three books were disappointed that it was decided that the series would continue beyond Larsson’s passing. (Larson left behind his own partially completed fourth novel and possibly notes for a fifth and sixth book, none of which are connected to Spider’s Web.) I dare say that there are fans of the first film who will feel similar disappointment that the three principals from the English-language version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo won’t be returning.
Now, a complete change of personnel both in front of and behind the camera doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. Paramount’s Jack Ryan series didn’t suffer when The Hunt For Red October star Alec Baldwin and director John McTiernan were replaced by Harrison Ford and Phillip Noyce for the next installment, Patriot Games. And of course, there’s the James Bond franchise, which has gone through numerous cast and crew changes over the decades.
But Sony’s adaptation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a bit different. While not quite as good as the original 2009 Swedish version directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the English-language version did garner five Academy Award nominations, winning in the Best Editing category. But with star Roony Mara earning one of those nominations for the film in the Best Actress category and long-time Fincher collaborator Jeff Cronenweth earning a nomination in the Best Cinematography category, why would the studio pass on possible cashing in on that magic?
According to The Wrap, one reason is money. Although their version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo only cost $90 million, with advertising costs and the fact that the film was a co-production with MGM added in Sony felt that the film’s ultimate $233 million worldwide box office take was disappointing. Craig reportedly was looking for an increase in his paycheck to come back for a sequel. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility that Mara and Fincher may have been asking for similar raises.