The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Columbia Pictures

I hear the sequel to Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is not going ahead—why not?! Didn't the first one make megabucks?
—Matthew K., via Facebook

Yes. It made megabucks. But not enough megabucks.

According to reports—and despite a fabulous performance from The Social Network alumna Rooney Mara—this movie did not make a profit.

That's right: A flick can spawn from a bestselling book franchise, have slick cinematography, an aggressive marketing campaign, an Academy Award and top actors, and still not make enough cash to guarantee that somebody will eventually kick a hornet's nest.

So is Mara even going to play with fire, at least?

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The signs do not look good.

First, some amazing numbers.

The film itself cost a reported $100 million or so to make. At the worldwide box office, the flick brought in about $231 million—not bad for a super violent anal-rape flick with an R rating.

And yet, that take wasn't enough for the film to break even. According to suits at MGM, which reportedly covered about 20 percent of the movie's budget, the film suffered a modest loss.

Really. That's according to a detailed piece of intel in the Los Angeles Times.

How can this be?

Well, remember: A film's budget doesn't cover marketing and promotion, which is often the same dollar amount as the shooting cost. That said, no one associated with the movie has said exactly how much it cost to sell the flick, or what other costs may have bogged the project down.

What we do know is this: As of March, the American iteration of Dragon Tattoo supposedly needed another 10 percent in revenue to break even.

As for the future, here's what I've found: Back in January, a rep from Sony, the other studio behind the project, was insisting that the second Lisbeth Salander movie, The Girl Who Played With Fire, was still moving ahead.

Cut to today, however, and the language is a bit more muted. I reached out to a spokesman for Sony, who told me only that the sequel is "still in development."

Now, in bizspeak, that's more encouraging than "we have no plans for a sequel." But it's still not as solid as, say, phrases like "green-lit" or "set for a holiday release." There's "development." But there's also something called being "stuck in development hell."

Other omens: there is no listed shoot or release date for the sequel on IMDB. In fact, The Girl Who Played With Fire isn't currently listed on Mara's slate at all.

If the American version of this franchise does in fact die, it won't be alone: recent launches other franchises, such as Green Hornet and The Golden Compass, also never made it past the first installment.

Maybe Lisbeth should enroll in Hogwarts or something.

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