Despite generally positive reviews and five Oscar nominations, the English-language adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn’t bowl over the box office. Still, Sony announced they would go ahead with the sequels, which to me was always the point of remaking the Swedish films anyway. Niels Arden Oplev’s Dragon Tattoo was excellent, but the subsequent films, each done by a different director, got progressively worse until the dreadfully boring Hornet’s Nest.
The next film in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire, has been stalled at Sony for a year. They meant to have it out this winter, but it’s been taken off the slate with no proposed release date, or shooting date, or even a director on board (David Fincher was only signed to direct Dragon Tattoo). And now they might be out their lead actor, too.
THR is reporting that the holdup isn’t the search for a director but salary discussions with Daniel Craig, who played Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander’s friend-lover/hero-father (if I was still in college I would totally be writing about the gender politics of this relationship). Apparently Craig is asking for more money in the wake of Skyfall’s monster success, and Sony, who is looking to cut costs after spending about $100 million and having to write it down as a loss, doesn’t like that noise. (THR says Craig’s camp claims negotiations haven’t begun, but what are they really going to say? Yes, our notoriously cantankerous client is being notoriously cantankerous?) The Sony solution is to go back to scripter Steve Zallian for a re-write, and axe Blomkvist from the script.
I’ve got a couple issues with this report. First, I don’t know how you write Blomkvist out of the story. Propose a recast, sure, fine. Craig didn’t own that part hard enough that anyone would be too upset to see him go—Lainey pointed out that Liev Schreiber would make a good Mikael. I wish THR had dug a little deeper on how exactly nixing Blomkvist would even work, or is it a case of a Sony rep tossing out, “Ugh we’re just going to cut him,” and the reporter, not really knowing that Blomkvist is an essential figure, assumed they meant “write out” when it was probably more “recast”.
Second, I don’t know what Cranky Craig thinks he’s doing, picking a money fight with Sony, who is his Bond boss after they bought up distribution rights from post-bankruptcy MGM. Between Bond and the Millennium series, Craig will be dealing with Sony a lot over the next few years and this doesn’t feel like the battle to choose. Ask for more money from Bond, because frankly, outside that franchise, Craig’s box office isn’t that impressive, and he’s carrying a couple legit, and recent, bombs with Dream House and Cowboys and Aliens. I wonder, then, if this is less about a real expectation of a raise and more about just getting out of the Millennium films for whatever reason (in my head, it’s because all Craig ever wants to do is sit and stare at Rachel Weisz in the light of a dying fire). Yes, Skyfall was a big hit, but Daniel Craig outside of Bond doesn’t have the same value.
Sony is going to keep making these Millennium films whether anyone really wants them or not. Frankly, Craig should be more concerned with consolidating his non-Bond position in the marketplace than squeezing every cent he can. The question isn’t how much money can he make right now; it’s what is his earning potential after Bond? Getting bounced out of a high-profile franchise doesn’t bode well for that inevitable future.