One of the hotly anticipated films has finally opened around the world.
The American remake of Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by none other than David Fincher and staring none other than James Bond, Daniel Craig himself has finally hit the screens.
Earlier in the year a viral ad campaign dubbed this “The feel bad movie of Christmas” and the world waited with bated breath to see Rooney Mara’s Lisbeth Salander, a role that will define the career of Noomi Rapace in the Swedish original.
There is just one problem.
No one has gone to see it.
There is a big problem here, not for Columbia who have invested $100m into the budget of the film – because eventually the film will make a profit, it’ll just take a little longer than anticipated. The problem is for the fan of the Millennium Trilogy, of which Dragon Tattoo is the first part. Columbia may not see that it’s in the best interests of the studio to invest in the second and final parts – The Girl who Played with Fire and the The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, respectively.
This was the curse of the much loved Northern Lights trilogy, though the problem with The Golden Compass was obvious; The film wasn’t very good, unlike Dragon Tattoo which is superb.
So where did it all go wrong?
First of all, this isn’t an easy film to watch – though in my personal opinion the brutality of the original film was somewhat diluted and there are moments in the American version which were unnecessary and over simplified, but this isn’t a review of the film – If you’ve seen both versions, you’ll know what I mean.
The problem that has plagued this film is that it’s opening at the wrong time of year. The narrative of the film passes from one Christmas to another, but this isn’t a Christmas film by any stretch of the imagination; because Christmas films are generally feel good family films, and traditionally films suitable for the the family do well at Christmas.
I think it was a mistake to market The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo as the “Feel bad film of Christmas”, because people at Christmas don’t want to feel bad – In the face of recession, it’s interesting to see that charity giving has increased, and this is because in the face of austerity it seem that people want to feel better and help those less fortunate (in a time where it can be argued that politically, Governments are not acting in the interests of the public) So, where an action film, such as the fourth Mission: Impossible incarnation and animated films are doing will, a film that prides itself on being dark and haunting isn’t -and frankly, wont. But open a film such as this in November or late January and you’ve got a blockbuster on your hands – why?
January is the lead up to the awards season, opening with the Golden Globes and running through to the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), people will be looking to see films which are edgy, push the envelope and challenge the audience. The Iron Lady, which is already been praised by many critics for Meryl Streeps interpretation of Margaret Thatcher, would never of done well if it opened the week before Christmas as it doesn’t appeal to a family audience, but open the film on the Friday when the Children have gone back to school and routine has been re-established and suddenly, you’ve got yourself a blockbuster.
November is the month another franchise offers another mediocre episode, and in 2011 is was The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (part 1) and, clearly it shot to number 1. This isn’t a Christmas film either, but by released it away from the Christmas market and leaving a gap, you’re not suggesting the film is something it isn’t.
So what would I suggest, should Columbia decide to finance the second and third chapters –
First of all, ditch the christmas market, it doesn’t work for this sort of film.
Critically, TGWTDT has been received well, should the cast and technical crew be fortunate enough to be recognised then I would suggest releasing the sequels in January – otherwise I would suggest the third week in October. A week before Halloween, the half-term break is over and also the toture-gore/Paranormal movie craze has finally come to an end and people are looking for something else – and a gritty crime saga could fill the gap.
Only time will tell as the box office receipts are tallied up, lets hope this film doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Northern Lights did.