Adam Markovitz
June 17, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo won’t be in theaters until Dec. 21. But Sony’s viral marketing campaign for the sure-to-be-R-rated thriller — starring Daniel Craig as a dogged journalist and Rooney Mara as cyber-punk hacker Lisbeth Salander — is already making waves online. A gritty, propulsive trailer released last month generated excitement. Reactions to one of the posters, though, have been mixed. You know the one: It shows Mara, 26, with an exposed, pierced right nipple.

Neither the filmmaker nor Sony would comment, but the image, like the trailer, was clearly intended to assure hardcore fans that Fincher’s vision will be provocative. (It’s a risky move, since all this could alienate conservative moviegoers.) Some bloggers and fans, however, feel the image doesn’t square with Salander’s feminism — or her body-image issues. And some feel queasy about seeing the actress exposed like that. ”If she were my client, I would say, ‘I don’t see how this is selling your movie,”’ says one prominent publicist. ”It’s not cool and sexy. It’s sordid.” It’ll be a while before we know if the controversy sells tickets, but plenty of insiders have nothing but praise for Sony and Fincher. ”I think it’s bold and courageous,” says veteran film marketer Dennis Rice. ”It’s a breath of fresh air from the formulaic campaigns at most studios.”

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