'Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' MOVIE: Steig Larsson Books To Be English-Language Films

06/14/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

STOCKHOLM — Sony Corp.'s subsidiary Columbia Pictures has bought the English-language movie rights to the popular Millennium trilogy by late crime novelist Stieg Larsson, a Swedish film production company said Wednesday.

More than 12 million copies of Larsson's trilogy, which starts with "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," have been sold globally.

Yellow Bird AB, which made Swedish-language movies based on the books, will work with Columbia Pictures on the Hollywood versions, for which filming is expected to start next year.

Yellow Bird CEO Mikael Wallen said the movies will be produced by Scott Rudin whose credits include the Academy Award-winning "No Country for Old Men" while "Schindler's List" scriptwriter Steve Zaillian will adapt the books for the big screen.

Wallen said no director had been picked yet and did not specify the terms of the sale.

"It's a little bit complicated, since we need someone who wants to, and can, do all three films," he said. "There is a shortlist and a decision should be made soon."

Larsson, who worked as an investigative journalist and anti-racism campaigner, never got to experience the success of his books. He died in a heart attack at 50, just before the first book was published in Sweden.

Since then, a conflict has emerged over Larsson's estate between his father and brother, who inherited the rights to the books, and his long-time partner Eva Gabrielsson, who was left with nothing because they never married.

Set in a Nordic landscape of serene lakes and lonely red cabins, Larsson's trilogy follows tattooed computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomqvist as they get entangled in a series of murder mysteries.

Wallen said the script should be finished "before the summer" and will change some parts of Larsson's story, but remain based in Sweden.

"Not everything will happen in Sweden, but we hope parts of it will be filmed here," he said. "The Stockholm setting is an important part of the books."

Casting for the roles of Blomqvist and Salander will begin once a director has been picked, Wallen added.