The Hollywood remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo seemed to have all the trappings of a surefire hit. The book it's based on — the first installment of Stieg Larsson's massively popular Millennium trilogy — sold more than 17 million copies in the U.S., and already proved cinematically successful with 2009's well-received Swedish adaptation. Fincher is an Oscar-nominated director, and James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, is the American movie's star. Plus, there were rave reviews, loads of advance hype, and a starmaking turn from Rooney Mara as the punkish private investigator Lisbeth Salander. Yet thus far, the film has been a box office flop. It opened last weekend with just $13 million (compared to its $90 million budget), finishing in fourth place. What happened? Perhaps it was the glut of releases to compete with, the long running time, or the film's extremely dark material — as Lisbeth helps a reporter (played by Craig) solve a harrowing murder case, she herself is brutally assaulted. But now, the disappointing box office puts the planned sequels to Dragon Tattoo, based on Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, in jeopardy. Will they be scrapped?
It's not looking good: After the film's dismal opening in the U.S., the future of the franchise depends on how well it plays overseas, box-office analyst Jeff Bock tells MTV News. But international success is hardly a sure thing. The Swedish version of Dragon Tattoo is barely two years old, and was a massive success around the world, grossing nearly $100 million. "Do overseas audiences really want to see the Hollywood version after the original is so fresh in their minds and was equally well-received?"
"Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: Why it didn't dominate"
Blame the perplexing foreign remake curse: Given the poor box office for Dragon Tattoo, sequels aren't likely, says Steven Zeitchik at the Los Angeles Times. Maybe we should have expected this. "Many of Hollywood's star-driven follow-ups to foreign-language hits have been flops." Remember the war drama Brothers (a remake of a Danish film) and the vampire thriller Let Me In (based on the Swedish Let the Right One In)? The failure of the English version of Dragon Tattoo proves that "the idea of taking a compelling foreign story and giving it a Hollywood gloss doesn't work as well as backers might think."
"Dragon Tattoo: Why do so many foreign remakes struggle?"
Actually, the film still has time to succeed: Don't write off Dragon Tattoo quite yet, Nikki Finke, founder of Deadline.com, tells the New York Daily News. The film has been plagued by an unwise release date — this isn't exactly the heartwarming sort of film audiences are lining up to see over the Christmas holiday. But once Christmas is behind us, we get into the time of year that older audiences go to the movies, and "there isn't much out there for adults." Plus, word of mouth is largely positive, hinting that the film could rebound and prove sequel-worthy.
"Girl With the Dragon Tattoo's low box ofice take leaves future of sequels a mystery"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- 9 Harvard dropouts who became fabulously successful
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How China sparked an Asian frenzy for killer submarines
- The dangers of our passionless American life
- Your literary playlist: A guide to the music of Haruki Murakami
- The essential techniques that every home cook should know
Subscribe to the Week