Monday, July 15, 2013

Will Fincher Ever Make The Girl Who Played With Fire?

By Steve Evans

Sony’s Columbia Pictures and director David Fincher want to move forward with the next installment of his English-adaptation of the Millennium trilogy (The Girl Who Played with Fire would be the second film). They may already be too late.

Incredibly, Sony is considering eliminating the essential character of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, played by Daniel Craig in Fincher's version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because the James Bond star wants more money. And he can pretty much name his price after his last Bond film, Skyfall, topped $1 billion. But there’s an important gap between Craig’s desire to broaden his roles and his actual range. He makes a good Bond because the character is a man of action, not rhetoric. Craig is ill-suited to the role of a crusading Swedish journalist, and he seemed vaguely constipated throughout Fincher’s 2011 Dragon Tattoo film.

Sony has already paid a reported $5 million+ to screenwriter Steven Zaillian (an Oscar winner for adapting Schindler's List for Spielberg) to adapt the second of Stieg Larsson's amazing mystery books, even though Fincher's first film was at best only modestly successful (a $90 million budget before marketing & promotion costs; $233 million box office). By contrast, the original 2009 Swedish version was produced for a relatively minuscule $13 million and made $104 million worldwide. That’s a massive differential in profitability between the two films, but money isn't everything.

Three observations:

1) Please, Sony, if you are going to make more films from Larsson's books, don't eliminate a key character. If Craig is too expensive, replace him with another actor better suited to the part. Hell, Ralph Fiennes needs a job when he's not playing "M" in the Bond flicks, although I’m sure you can also find other actors equally as good.

2) Could the sell-by date on this material have already expired? Larsson’s books peaked on the best-seller lists three years ago. Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo came out during Christmas 2011. If Sony/Columbia ever greenlights a second installment in this would-be trilogy, that film would not hit theaters for at least a year. Public enthusiasm for pop-cultural ephemera has a nasty way of fading fast and moving on to something else.

3) Consider this: don't even bother with more English adaptations. I just picked up the DVD boxed set of the three original Swedish films adapted from Larsson's books and these terrific films could scarcely be improved upon, even by someone possessed of Fincher's talent.

I argued as much 18 months ago.

Cinema Uprising copyright © 2013 by Steve Evans. All rights reserved.

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