Sony nabs ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

Studio options screen rights to crime novel

Sony Pictures has optioned the English-language screen rights to “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” the first of three titles in the Millennium Series of crime thriller novels by late Swedish journalist-activist Stieg Larsson.

Steve Zaillian is in talks to write the script. Scott Rudin will produce with Ole Sondberg and Soren Staermose of Yellow Bird Films.

The novels focus on journalist-investigator Mikael Blomkvist and a precocious computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. The duo become embroiled in life-threatening mysteries as they attempt to expose institutions that pull the strings behind the scenes.

The deal hasn’t closed yet; it’s been gestating for six months because of a rights dispute between Larsson’s parents and his longtime partner, Eva Gabrielsson.

Sony’s pursuit began last summer, when Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal sparked to the novel series.

Book was turned into a Swedish-lingo thriller produced by Yellow Bird. Released last February, it’s racked up nearly $100 million across Europe. Swedish version was acquired by Music Box Films in the U.S.

The novels are very cinematically told,” said Col Pix co-prexy Doug Belgrad. “Lisbeth Salander is one of the most compelling characters in contemporary fiction.”

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” were discovered by Larsson’s family after he died. He also left behind three unfinished follow-ups. Sony is focused for now on the first book.

Yellow Bird’s Mikael Wallen and Anni Fernandez are exec producers.