Daniel Craig Cut from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Sequels?

We live in a world where a movie that grosses $223 million isn't a big hit. Strange times, for sure, but that's what you get when you spend $90 million on a murder mystery with no visual effects or action sequences to justify that price tag to audiences. Where did that money go anyway? That's what Sony is trying to figure out as they put together the long-delayed sequels to 2011's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They're still eager to wrap up Stieg Larsson's best-selling "Millenium Trilogy" with The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest… but now they're thinking that James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, is completely expendable to the franchise.

Hollywood Reporter investigated the studio's sequel plans – which were in doubt after director David Fincher started attaching himself to another high-profile mystery novel adaptation, Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl – and discovered that Sony stills wants to wrap up the franchise, but only if they can cut costs dramatically. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo co-star Daniel Craig appears to be an enormous part of the skyrocketing price tags, but after the bombastically successful release of Skyfall, he's actually, and not altogether unreasonably, asking for more money. 

In response, Sony is seriously considering cutting Craig's part altogether from The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. That's a major, major change from the novels, since Craig's character Mikael Blomqvist was a major driving force in all the books in the series, but simply recasting isn't much of an option, since Craig has an option on both films. If they decide not to pay Craig's salary, Sony's only option is to remove Blomqvist from the series altogether, a move that could potentially piss off the series' legions of fans.

Sony's stuck between a rock and a Bond place, and we don't envy them their position. If they can't reduce costs then the other films in the "Millenium Trilogy" might not be economically viable enough to push into production, but making such a drastic change to the books is unlikely to win them any fans who were already clearly skeptical of the Hollywood version, who didn't turn 2011's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo into the breakaway hit the studio was hoping for. 

We can't help but wonder if it's worth the trouble to keep the franchise going at this rate. If you can't do it right, why do it at all? (Besides the potential to make scads of money, of course.) What do you think? Would you support a chopped up version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sequels?

William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel, the co-host of The B-Movies Podcast and the co-star of The Trailer Hitch. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.