There's been a question hanging over Sony since the release of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” and it appears that the answer involves shaking everyone involved with the first film loose because there's no way they can afford to make the sequel.
Instead, “The Girl In The Spider's Web” is going to allow the studio to do a hard reboot on the franchise, with Steven Knight attached to adapt the book. There's no word yet on whether Knight will also direct, but it is clear that Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig are both off the series now, as is David Fincher.
Truth be told, I find the entire notion of this as a major studio franchise very weird, and I'm unconvinced they've really got a series here that people want. Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal are both set to produce for the studio, and it's clear that there are a lot of people who really want this thing to happen. The same is true on the publishing side of things. This book, written by David Lagercrantz, was commissioned as a way of bringing Lizbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist back into pop culture, something that seemed next to impossible when Stieg Larsson died.
Then again, I didn't even understand the first big budget film as a business proposition. I'm not a huge fan of the books, which I think are serviceable thrillers with a deeply ugly side to them, and I thought the original 2009 film with Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist was entirely adequate. It told the story, it was well-acted, and it seemed suitably grimy. The only thing the 2011 did was cost more. They spent almost $100 million making a film that was pretty much the exact same movie, but with the meticulous craftsmanship of Fincher bent to the task. It felt to me like a waste of a film from a director who doesn't exactly crank them out, and I would have much rather seen him making something that someone else hadn't already filmed a mere two years earlier.
The article in the Hollywood Reporter suggests they could still decide to make “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” especially since it's a wildly expensive script by Steven Zaillian, and it would be hard to justify writing it off completely, but I can't imagine they'll ever put the Mara/Craig/Fincher trio together again if they do manage to recast the characters and get “The Girl In The Spider's Web” off the ground.
Whatever happens, at least this creative team gets the benefit of being the first filmmakers to adapt the material.