Warning: there's a lot of "Wait, what?" in the following story, which just broke over on The Hollywood Reporter. Let's take it step by step.
Lisbeth Salander will hack again on the big screen but not in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sequel, The Girl Who Played With Fire.
Instead, Sony is putting its focus on book No. 4 in the Millennium series, The Girl in the Spider's Web, the first book famously not written by creator Stieg Larsson.
Sources say that neither Rooney Mara, who nabbed a best actress Oscar nomination for Dragon Tattoo, nor Daniel Craig will be back, and the studio sees the new book as an opportunity to start the franchise over. Ditto for Dragon Tattoo director David Fincher, who is not expected to return to Salander universe.
OK, let's recap: Sony is moving forward with a follow-up to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but they're skipping the bulk of the original trilogy (books two and three) and going straight to The Girl In The Spider's Web, a follow-up sequel written by someone other than Stieg Larsson. There are no plans to bring Daniel Craig or Rooney Mara back for this follow-up, nor will director David Fincher be returning. THR also reports that Sony wants to "make Spider's Web at a much lower budget", though that seems fairly obvious.
Is this as crazy as it sounds? Eh, maybe not.
Consider where Sony's coming from here. Fincher's Dragon Tattoo underperformed (as far as the studio's expectations went, anyway), and when it came time for Sony to figure out why the film underperformed, all manner of excuses were floated. Chief among them was the theory that many fans had already seen the original trilogy of films based on the books, and an American remake was considered redundant. Assuming that's the theory Sony adopted, I can imagine that skipping books two and three in favor of getting the first Spider's Web adaptation into theaters would seem like the more attractive proposition. And recasting? Well, if you're looking to make a clean break, that'd be a good way to go about doing it.
The truth, of course, is that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was just kind of a snooze (indeed, were it not for The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, it might very well be the snooziest film Fincher's ever made). Sure, it was redundant given the perfectly-serviceable Swedish adaptations, and yeah, it probably would've done better at the box office had Sony released the film around Halloween rather than Chrismas...but if the film had been electrifying, none of that would've mattered.
I've not read The Girl In The Spider's Web, so I have no idea whether or not it'd make for a good movie. I do know that hiring Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke) to write the screenplay is a pretty good way to kick things off, though. If they can hire up a solid cast and an interesting director, as well...who knows? Maybe this'll turn out to be a crafty move on Sony's part. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
While we're waiting, let's revisit the best part of Fincher's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: