While I initially thought that the decision to do English-language adaptations of these books even as the original Swedish-language films are being released seemed like an unnecessary decision, I'm starting to think David Fincher is sitting on a potential blockbuster franchise, and some of the announcements that are starting to come out about the series makes me think we're going to be talking about these films a lot in the next few years.

The books have become a genuine phenomenon, and I get it.  They scratch the same itch as something like the Thomas Harris Hannibal novels, and getting that sort of material just right is harder than it looks.  The Millennium Trilogy, written by Stieg Larsson, concludes its English-language publication this week with The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, and it's interesting to watch this mania catch on here after spending time in Europe, where it's been a big deal for some time now.  I haven't seen the first of the Swedish films, although a DVD should arrive here this week sometime, and I'm hoping to see and review "The Girl Who Played With Fire" as it starts to roll out a limited arthouse release very soon.

Fincher is a little on-the-nose as a choice to direct, but I don't blame him or Scott Rudin for making that obvious choice.  When you're given something that fits this perfectly, sometimes you do it because it buys you the right to do other more esoteric material.  The nice thing is that the books are sort of rough and wild and filthy, but mainstream at the same time, and that makes people feel like they're watching or reading something extreme.  Fincher's great at that.  "Se7en" is one of those films that makes you think you've seen far more than you actually have, that masterfully paints pictures in your imagination by showing you almost nothing. 

Steve Zallian, one of the smartest writers working today, has been working for a while now on a new adaptation of the first book, and he's about to hand in a draft of the script according to Anne Thompson.  At that point, Brad Pitt is going to decide if he's onboard to play one of the two main characters, Mikael Blomkvist.  He's a journalist who gets tangled up with Lisbeth Salander, the female lead.  She's the truly great role in the trilogy, at least at the start.  By the last book, she's sidlelined to some degree, but for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, it's the showboat part to play.  Basically, every actress under the age of 35 has probably expressed interest in playing the part at this point.  I'm hoping they cast someone lesser known who just plain embodies the part.

There was a great piece in The NY Times over the weekend about the author and the possibility of a fourth and fifth book, and if you're already a fan, it's an overload of great material about what's already out there and what you might still have to look forward to.

The article also states that we'll see the first film in 2011, and that they're considering shooting the second and third films back to back, which makes sense.  The books read like one big fat book cut in half, and even though The Girl Who Played With Fire has a real ending, and it works by itself, when you take it as a whole with part of the trilogy, it turns out to be a great breaking point.  I have trouble believing they'd get Fincher to do a second and third film, but at least we can look forward to seeing him turn the first one into the event that it easily could be.

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You can e-mail me at drew@hitfix.com or follow me on Twitter, where I'm DrewAtHitFix.