December 21, 2011

Why this remake?

The new film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is being released today.

I have not read the books but saw the Swedish trilogy of films and they were pretty good. They are also recent, all being released in 2009 so I don't understand the reasons for this remake. The new version also takes place in Sweden and seems to have the same plot with the same characters and names, and the trailer seems awfully similar to the original, so I am baffled as to why it was done.

The only benefit seems to be to not have subtitles. I know that some people don't like them but they don't bother me in the least. In fact, after the film is over, I often cannot recall whether the film was in English or I was reading subtitles. Subtitles can also be an advantage because you don't miss mumbled words and the spoken words do not get drowned by ambient sounds, not an insignificant factor when you are watching at home, and your dog can get excited by seeing a squirrel and let loose a fusillade of barks.

Maybe the reason is purely commercial. The books have been huge bestsellers and by making pretty much the same film but in English with a well-known star like Daniel Craig, Hollywood hopes to cash in on the phenomenon and make a bundle.


Trackback URL for this entry is:


I agree, Mano. I liked the original. My wife hates sub-titles, so there's an audience out there for a remake. Most probably done for the money, though ...

Posted by Tim on December 22, 2011 10:51 AM

Of course this is done for the money, Tim! But that's why they needed to get rid of the subtitles - your wife is one of about 50% of people in the USA for whom a subtitled film is disregarded instantly regardless of quality.

They wouldn't bother just redoing the original film with the same actors speaking English - their accents would put the same subtitle-hating potential audience off anyway - but they add better known actors, director, etc... 5 times bigger budget so the whole thing just feels and looks richer and more expensive, but most importantly a $50m marketing campaign to tell the public about all of the above.

Despite critical acclaim and huge popularity in Sweden, the fact is most Americans and lots of Asians too have never read one of the late Mr Larsson's books or seen one of the original movies. So there is still a huge potential audience for a triple-a Hollywood blockbuster, just as long as you spend properly on the marketing part to get the news out to all of them.

International gross for the first dragon tattoo film was $94 million in US dollars. The US gross for the same film was $10 million. Those numbers are usually close to equal for successfull Hollywood films, so it's obvious the US performance of the film was terrible.

With this new film and decent marketing, I'm sure they are hoping for at least the $200m worldwide gross that the first film would have got if US moviegoers weren't practically illiterate and just turn off when any activity involves reading.

I actually don't like subtitles, but that's fairly recent.

Since I've been married to a woman who speaks English as her 2nd language, I've watched so many TV shows and films with English subtitles that I've realised how much you miss by having to read all the dialogue. Simply due to the way our visual system works, when we focus our eyes on a small part of the image and start reading, we get a very low-bandwidth version of the rest of the image, with our brains interpolating and tricking us into thinking it looks normal.

Over the years I've found that watching with subtitles on really does ruin the immersion and I just don't get as good an experience compared to non-subtitled stuff.

Posted by Neil on December 22, 2011 05:47 PM

As far as remake is concerned it is mainly the commercial reasons which prompt that. There are two aspects of the game. One is of course the quality of the product and second the marketing and ultimately in marketing you can't beat a Hollywood movie. They are best in that :). They are good in that as well as their momentum of success also helps.

Subtitles are another aspects. There are some like you and me who like to capture the story, it's overall effects and enjoy the flow but then there are some like your or my wife :) who do not find satisfaction till they capture each and every word of it... so here you go.

Posted by fx on December 24, 2011 07:37 PM