But at a price tag of roughly $90 million, that's not quite the worldwide blockbuster for which the studio hoped. As such, Sony is looking to cut costs on The Girl Who Played With Fire and has proceeded with caution. Steve Zaillian, the Oscar-winner who wrote the first film, has completed a ready-to-shoot script for the sequel.
The most substantial issue at this point, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is working out a deal with Daniel Craig. The studio has contractual options on both Craig and Rooney Mara to reprise their roles in two sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. With his latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, breaking franchise records and earning in excess of $1 billion globally, though, Craig is reportedly looking for a pay increase to play journalist and obvious Larsson-esque figure Mikael Blomkvist.
That doesn't really fit with Sony's determination to somehow pay less for the sequel. Especially since Craig hasn't proven himself as a reliable box office draw outside of the 007 franchise, the studio isn't necessarily eager to start writing bigger checks. THR cites anonymous sources who suggest that Sony is giving some thought to actually writing Blomkvist out of The Girl Who Played With Fire entirely.
Since the next installment focuses more on Mara's Lisbeth Salander, that wouldn't be impossible. If – and that is a massive if – this option is pursued, it's unknown of Zaillian could carry out rewrites, since he has moved on the HBO series Criminal Justice.
Sources for Craig, meanwhile, assert that the negotiations have yet to commence between Craig and the studio, but the actor is enthusiastic about returning. The timing of the story, prior to negotiations even formally kicking off, gives the impression that Sony may be preparing to negotiate hard, Jack Donaghy-style, and is publicly letting Craig and co. know that publiclly.
The story of Craig potentially exiting the series also implies that The Girl Who Played With Fire is ready to roll, and the activities of David Fincher indicate that this may not be the case. Just last week, Fincher signed on to direct Gone Girl, an adaptation of the novel being carried out by author Gillian Flynn. He's also been developing 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at Disney, courting frequent collaborator Brad Pitt to star in the Jules Verne adaptation. Disney has been hesitant to pull the trigger on the costly event movie, and at this point it looks as though Fincher's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea probably won't come to pass.
Stay tuned for more on The Girl Who Played With Fire.