This week's box office is a pause between box office heavyweight openings. Last week, it was Bohemian Rhapsody, which smashed expectations. Next week, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will attempt to recapture Harry Potter magic. Into the gap, Sony has slipped a hopeful tentpole of its own, The Girl In The Spider's Web, the sequel to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Well, it's a sort of sequel, the way Casino Royale is sort of a sequel to The World Is Not Enough. But The Girl In The Spider's Web ratings suggests the recast and re-angled film might not be as impressive as the first one.
Both stories are part of the Swedish crime novel franchise Millennium, which initially was supposed to consist of 10 installments. Only three were completed before author Stieg Larsson passed away in 2004, all three were published after he died: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005), The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (2007).
After The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo became a successful movie in 2011 with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 86 percent, author David Lagercrantz picked up the series with The Girl in the Spider's Web (2015) and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (2017). For the adaptation of the new story, an entirely new cast was brought in, and the story made more of an action film than a psychological one. The result is critics are less impressed, with a current score of 61 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The A.V. Club blames the weight of trying to restart a franchise after nearly a decade off as the movie's real problem:
While Alvarez acquits himself with thrilling action sequences and breakneck pacing, the overall impression left by this "New Dragon Tattoo Story" is one of a razor-sharp blade dulled by the demands of franchise filmmaking.
Variety complains the movie went too James Bond in an attempt to woo audiences.
It was probably inevitable that Hollywood would neuter the best elements of Stieg Larsson's "Millennium" franchise, but did the producers really need to shift it into a commonplace cross between a superhero flick and James Bond?
But even if the movie left behind the more psychological aspects in its new format, Claire Foy is still fantastic in it. As IndieWire puts it:
Lisbeth is never going to be cuddly or sunny, but that doesn't mean she has to be robotic or impossible to read. That's something that Foy and Alvarez clearly understand, and the result is a heroine not only worth cheering for, but one worth loving.
Still, despite the change in marketing and attitude, Variety predicts The Girl in the Spider's Web will aim for a repeat of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's numbers and most likely will stick the landing.
[E]stimates shows Sony’s “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is eyeing $12 million to $15 million for the three-day period. While that’s in line with 2011’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the sequel arrives with less fanfare and a lesser-known filmmaker than David Fincher, whose film starred Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig.
The Girl in the Spider's Web opens on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018.