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maryann johanson | takeaway only

question of the day: Is there any point in a Hollywood remake of ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’?

As it always does, the inevitable has come to pass. The Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is getting the Hollywood treatment. Never mind that the original film is a worldwide phenomenon that has earned more than $100 million worldwide, including more than $9 million in North America, which ranks it respectably as one of the biggest foreign-language films ever in the U.S. and Canada. Never mind: It doesn’t count if it’s not in English. Because while audiences around the planet are somehow able to cope perfectly well with subtitles, mainstream American audiences absolutely refuse to do so. (I’m not sure about Canadians. Any Canadian readers care to enlighten me?)

So there’s still money to be made from moviegoers who simply must hear a film in English. David Fincher is attached to direct; Carey Mulligan and Daniel Craig are rumored to be starring. Will it all feel pointless by the time the film is finally released, which isn’t projected to happen till 2012? Because by then, the entire trilogy — in Swedish — will have run its course: Tattoo was just released on DVD in North America, and its two sequels will have come and gone from theaters and ended up on DVD as well. (The Girl Who Played with Fire opens in the U.S. July 9, with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest following on October 15.)
I suspect that only those American film fans for whom foreign movies are even on their radar will notice. For everyone else, a vague memory of someone saying Fincher’s Tattoo is some sort of remake will be the most it impinges on their consciousness that Mulligan and Craig (if indeed they’re the cast that Fincher ends up with) are not the first actors to inhabit the roles of punk hacker Lisbeth Salander and left-wing journalist Mikael Blomkvist… if, indeed, the characters even end up with those same names. Those fans will exist in a happy oblivion, content in the “knowledge” that this is a brand-new movie, even if rumor has it that it’s based on a book. Which is another thing they don’t read.

The isolation of mainstream American movie audiences is really too bad. Ordinary film fans in Europe and Asia and Australia and all around the planet consume movies from, you know, all around the planet. But most Americans will bother only with films spit out by Hollywood. To them, only weird arthouse snobs read subtitles. They have no idea what they’re missing, and they don’t want to know. How anyone can consider themselves a film fan and cut themselves off from movies like this is a mystery to me.

Apart from appeasing American moviegoers, Is there any point in a Hollywood remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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