She was played by Noomi Rapace in the originals, then Rooney Mara in David Fincher’s stylized movie. Now Claire Foy takes on the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl In the Spider’s Web: A New Dragon Tattoo Story. Based on the novel of the same name, the movie doesn’t reboot the series exactly but does offer Sony a fresh start with a new cast, even though the story does happen after the events of Fincher’s film.
That story finds Salander caught up in a conspiracy involving government officials and other powerful people. As she realizes things are aligned against her she discovers there’s a reason the attacks seem so personal: They’re being coordinated by her long-missing sister, who still bears a grudge against Lisbeth over secrets from long ago.
The first teaser poster features the same basic visual look and feel as the first movie from several years ago, all dark blues and greys around a photo of Lisbeth looking back toward the camera over her tattooed shoulder, tears coming down from her eyes. “The past never forgets” we’re told at the bottom.
Lisbeth is crouching down on the second poster, with the face of her sister looming in the background. This one sports the new branding that makes it part of the overall Dragon Tattoo series, an attempt to make sure the audience doesn’t think this is just another movie with “Girl” in the title but a continuation or expansion of the franchise related to the books they thought looked interesting as they passed an airport bookstore.
Lisbeth is an avenging angel – quite literally at times – in the first trailer, exacting the same cruelty on men that they show to the women in their lives. She knows all their secrets and will use them in her mission. Someone who appears to be a figure from her past appears and asks Lisbeth why she couldn’t help her, too.
It’s all very dramatic, with imposing music and the same stark imagery – sometimes very rough and violent – that the franchise is known for. This first look is just about that, reinforcing the brand in the minds of the audience without tipping too many of the story’s cards.
The second trailer is more clear in presenting the narrative arc of the movie. Lisbeth is contracted for a job that turns out to be a setup, with all clues leading back to her childhood home. When she arrives there it turns out her estranged sister is out to exact some measure of revenge for wrongs committed long ago and has substantial backup to do so. So Lisbeth has to enlist help of her own to make it through and find out why and stop her before she finished her plan.
Online and Social
The official website for the movie doesn’t offer a whole lot of information about the movie. The trailers are there along with a gallery of stills. The “About” synopsis is particularly disappointing as it still reads like an announcement of a movie that’s just been put in production, not a recap of the story for a movie that’s about to come out.
Links to the official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are all included. It’s not linked from the site, but Sony also created a Pinterest board offering visitors tips on developing Lisbeth’s unique fashion for themselves and more.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The second trailer was used in promoted Tweets and other posts. Other online ads used the key art or variations showing Lisbeth’s face with a red streak painted over the eyes. There are no domestic TV spots found on YouTube, but it’s likely some advertising there was done.
Media and Publicity
Some early looks at the cast – not in character, just hanging out together – preceded the movie’s inclusion as part of Sony’s CinemaCon 2018 presentation, which included some of the first footage.
Fede Alvarez spoke about why the lead role was recast following the 2011 movie in the same feature that included another new photo from the film. And Foy later commented on how the movie’s message went beyond the current #MeToo conversation to encompass all the women who have been victimized by men over the years. Alvarez added how he was reminded at all times to not make the framing of the character too sexy lest it distract from the story and work against the character’s motivations.
The film’s world premiere was eventually set to occur at the Rome Film Festival. Around that time a short vignette was released with Foy talking about where the story finds Salander and what kind of challenges she’s facing. And Alvarez spoke about how the movie has more in common with James Bond than a traditional mystery.
A clip released in late October showed Lisbeth dealing with a home invasion by some people out to kill her. Another offered an extended look at an airport sequence showing how handy she is in handling difficult situations.
The movie’s Rome premiere featured lots of glitz and glamour along with the cast speaking about the story and the production.
Alvarez later commented on how he wanted to make sure this movie, unlike previous adaptations, came from Lisbeth’s point of view. He later offered even more details on the themes of the story and how it fits into the current cultural landscape.
There are two things about the campaign that have to be called out:
First, the rebranding to make this under the Dragon Tattoo franchise umbrella is interesting because not only does it indicate Hollywood’s reliance on appealing to awareness of existing properties as part of the marketing of new movies but it also is worded vaguely enough to allow for a realm of possibilities. It’s similar to the “A Star Wars Story” branding Lucasfilm has used a couple times now for stories that take us off the beaten path. That could open up new story avenues for Sony and free it from having to maintain more than token continuity between various movies, with new casts and creators coming in regularly.
Second, the official synopsis mentions that Lisbeth is once more working with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Daniel Craig in Fincher’s movie and Sverrir Gudnason in this one) but until Alvarez mentioned that in an interview there was nothing in the campaign to call that out. That is very different from the campaign for Sony’s first Dragon Tattoo movie, which was sold as Blomkvist’s story as much as Salander’s and viewed her through his eyes.
Whether or not that’s all enough to turn out audiences seven years after the first movie remains to be seen.