Mysterious Trailer for David Fincher’s 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' Hits the Web

Rooney Mara's 'Dragon Tattoo'  - W Magazine Shoot - 2011
Jean-Baptiste Mondino

Red-band trailer said to be filmed illegally in a European theater, but is it a Sony plant?

Has Sony Pictures just pulled a Lisbeth Salander?

Salander is, of course, the kick-ass computer hacker who is the heroine of Steig Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy. And a trailer for David Fincher’s film adaptation, coming this December, has just hit the web. It provides the first look at how Fincher is translating the book to the screen, and the results are pretty rivetting. He appears to be following the outline of Larsson’s novel while shooting in a hard-edge style closer to his Se7en than The Social Network.

What’s curious, though, is the source of the trailer. A number of the web sites that have eagerly picked it up describe it as a trailer that is playing in Europe, where it was illegally camcorded. It does looks as if it was secretly recorded in a movie theater, and many sites are linking to a copy that was uploaded on YouTube on Saturday.

But wait a minute. Could this all actually be a clever viral campaign on Sony’s part? For starters, the trailer is preceded by an MPAA red-band, advising that the preview has been approved by the MPAA for mature audiences. But why would theaters in Europe be showing an MPAA advisory which is aimed at U.S. moviegers?

Also, while the trailer gives the appearance of being filmed in a theater with some sort of handheld device -- the trailer is off-center and appears to shake as it begins -- it’s actually a pretty good copy. There’s no audience noise, and once the trailer kicks in the framing settles down and the sound is good.

Which all leads to the question: Was the trailer actually planted by a Sony operative? The YouTube version that is getting a lot of clicks belongs to a user who is identified as being in the Netherlands and who joined YouTube May 28, the same day the trailer was uploaded. And so far, it doesn’t look as if Sony has not moved quickly to have it removed.

Offering U.S. fans a first look at the movie via an “unauthorized” trailer can only add to its cachet. And since its a red-band trailer -- presumably because of a glimpse of nudity -- leaking it via YouTube means the studio doesn’t have to go through the exercise of making the video an “age-restricted” posting on its official site. (The trailer directs viewers to an official site,, that doesn’t appear to be operational yet.)

Finally, an under-the-radar viral campaign would be in keeping with Salander’s own renegade spirit, since she’s a master of manipulating the web.

According to a Sony spokesman, the trailer was probably copied in the United States, since it played over the Memorial Day weekend at some theaters showing the R-rated The Hangover. The mystery deepens.