Fans of Daniel Craig's performance in 2011's “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” may be in for an unpleasant surprise in the sequel: his character, crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist may be written out of the film entirely. “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” based as “Dragon Tattoo” on a novel by the late Stieg Larsson, focuses a lot more on “The Girl,” hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander (played by rising star Rooney Mara). But the reason Blomkvist may be cut has more to do with commerce than art.
Sony's disappointment in the box-office returns for “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” which grossed $233 million worldwide on a reported budget of $90 million, far short of their hopes, led them to tighten the purse strings for the sequel. Daniel Craig, on the other hand, was just in the phenomenally successful “Skyfall,” which led him to ask for an increase in pay for “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” As this runs contrary to Sony's more fiscally responsible plan, they are reportedly balking.
The tactic of simply writing the character out of the sequel is not without precedent. In William Goldman's 1997 screen adaptation of the novel “Absolute Power,” the novel's protagonist was completely cut, and the thief character played by director Clint Eastwood was elevated to the lead. Even then, “Absolute Power” was a far lower-profile novel and film.
As a cost-cutting measure, cutting Craig's character is at best a counterintuitive one: screenwriter Steven Zaillan's script has already cost Sony quite a bit of money (the Oscar-winning writer's rate is quiet high) and the level of rewrites mandated by cutting one of the two lead characters could potentially cost even more than increasing Craig's salary.
Daniel Craig's representatives have denied the reports that he's seeking a salary increase, saying those negotiations have yet to begin. It could be that this entire notion of cutting him is a preemptive negotiating tactic by the studio. Little has yet been concretely decided with regards to “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” even if director David Fincher is returning.
With none of Fincher's other projects currently presenting a conflict, it's conceivable that if all the salary negotiations end up going smoothly, that the sequel could go into production rather quickly. If that's the case, the multitudes of Millenium Trilogy fans could find the next installment arriving in cinemas sooner rather than later.