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Will the Fourth Book in the Millennium ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ Series Recharge Sony Sequels?

Will the Fourth Book in the Millennium 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' Series Recharge Sony Sequels?

UPDATED: As Knopf pushes ahead with a September 1 release date for “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” David Lagercrantz’s fourth installment in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, a possible sequel film without Fincher is back on the table. According to THR, “there’s talk of turning the second and third books into one film without Fincher and having ‘Spider’s Web’ close out the trilogy.” But for ex-Sony chief and “Dragon Tattoo” producer Amy Pascal, this would mean shelving Steve Zaillian’s expensive and already-penned second installment.

Amazon already has a high volume of pre-sales for “Spider’s Web.” Knopf expects 500,000 copies to hit shelves in the US alone.

EARLIER: For the past two years, David Lagercrantz has been writing the authorized sequel to the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which features the return of tough hacker Lisbeth Salander, set for August publication. Publisher Norstedts in Sweden plans the simultaneous release of the book, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” in at least 35 countries; the U.S. publisher is Knopf.

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which includes “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” became a global sensation when they were published, after he had died of a heart attack in 2004; he collapsed at age 50 after climbing the stairs to his apartment.

Larsson’s family and his unmarried partner of 30 years, Eva Gabrielsson, fought in court about what his legacy should be. 
Swedish law dictated that his estate go to his father and brother, Erland and Joakim Larsson, who worked with the author’s Swedish publisher to find the right writer to continue Salander’s story. They chose David Lagercrantz, who had co-written a popular sports memoir. He did not use the unfinished draft of a fourth book that Larsson was rumored to have left on a computer possessed by Gabrielsson. She has said that she had seen the document, which has not turned up. Lagercrantz has said that he wanted to use the world and the “vast mythology” that Larsson created. 

The Millennium trilogy was first adapted for Swedish television and released theatrically around the world as three wildly successful films; David Fincher directed Sony’s U.S. remake “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” starring Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig, which was released in 2011. The glossy thriller grossed just $102 million in the U.S. and $232 million worldwide– presumably because Sony wasn’t able to sell the American version as an improvement on the original. 

Sony considered the Scott Rudin-produced thriller to be less successful than it should have been given its $90 million price tag. Thus the Sony sequels have been on hold, even though the first film’s A-list adapter Steve Zaillian (“Schindler’s List”) also wrote a pricey second installment. Regarding a sequel, Rooney told E!Online last month. “I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’m sad never to do it again, but it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards.”

Will the new book, especially if it is a global success, recharge Sony’s taste for more Salander? She’s a potent and popular character. More time has gone by since the original trilogy; a new book installment could renew interest around the world. Will ex-Sony chief Amy Pascal, now in charge of her own production label at the studio, pick up the reins again with her email pal Rudin and a new director willing to shoot on a smaller budget? That’s what cost-conscious Sony Pictures chairman Tom Rothman will certainly demand, even with big-spender Pascal doing the honors.  

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