You know what they say: never let individual creators get in the way of a potentially bankable franchise!
Sony is officially moving forward with a follow-up to 2011’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a David Fincher production whose commercial prospects unfortunately failed to live up to the megahit Stieg Larsson novel on which it was based. (It brought in a respectable enough $103 million domestic compared to its $90 million budget, but compare that to the $167 million of another David Fincher literary adaptation and one can understand Sony’s mild disappointment.) Combined with the uncertainty over whether Fincher or co-star Daniel Craig, who already had a mega-series to headline, even wanted to film a sequel and the fate of The Girl Who Played with Fire remained up in the air.
Until now! Slashfilm reports that Sony’s opted to proceed without Fincher, Craig, or even Rooney Mara, the title Girl herself. Strangest of all, the studio won’t actually be adapting Played with Fire, the second of Larsson’s novels. Instead, it’ll jump forward to The Girl in the Spider’s Web, the first book in the series written after Larsson’s death by new author David Lagercrantz. There’s no director attached yet, but Steven Knight, most recently of Burnt, will write the script. As for Mara’s replacement, Ex Machina‘s Alicia Vikander — unlike Mara, a bona fide Swede herself — is apparently in the running.
As for why Sony, and specifically producers Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal, are adapting the less well-known Spider’s Web first, they’re likely hedging their bets. Original screenwriter Steven Zaillian has already written a script for Played with Fire, but the rights would be more expensive, and the movie itself a riskier proposition considering the loss of Fincher, Craig, and Mara. Hence the decision to see how the new creative team plays out at the box office before shelling out for a more premium intellectual property. Not exactly inspiring, but certainly smart!