Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible, Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Columbia Pictures

Is it true that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo flopped at the box office because people went to see a Tom Cruise movie instead? What's wrong with people?
—NeatElla, via the inbox

Yep, the Dragon Tattoo girl got flamed all right. Charred. Scorched. Pick your favorite Lisbeth Salander-on-fire analogy and go with it. The film's opening is an unquestioned disappointment. Now, if you're hoping to blame Cruise for this debacle, here's what I can tell you...

Yes, his movie won, and David Fincher's U.S. remake of the Swedish juggernaut, well, did naut. The numbers are brutal. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, brought in an estimated $26.5 million over the weekend. At No. 2 was the new Sherlock Holmes installment, at $17.8 million. Even the new Chipmunks movie did better than Dragon Tattoo, which came in fourth with an estimated $13 million.

Does that mean that Salander has been officially trounced? Analysts tell me yes.

"A debut of $13 million over the holiday season is equivalent to a lump of coal, especially for a film that brings along this much fanfare," says Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations. "Dragon Tattoo will no doubt perform better than Zodiac, which also debuted with $13 million and finished with $33 million. But it is doubtful foreign grosses will bring much merriment, as the Swedish version of Dragon Tattoo previously lit it up overseas, grossing $94 million.

"With a budget approaching $90 million, plus purchasing the rights to the Millennium franchise, plus big-time marketing, this will go down as a dud."

But why? Well, you have my permission to blame the squeamishness of the American audience, especially during the holidays, when people want only escapism or sentimentality. The Dragon Tattoo series offers neither, instead depicting, among other violations, the graphic shackling and rape of Salander.

"The subject matter is very disturbing and ultimately dour, and as we saw earlier this fall with Drive, those films don't often connect with moviegoers, especially over the holiday season," Bock tells this B!tch.

A shame, really. In my opinion (which totally counts), this new interpretation of Dragon Tattoo is terrific. I highly recommend it.

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