Entertainment Weekly confirms that Craig, 42, has signed to play the lead in the American adaptation of Stieg Larsson's best-selling mystery novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to be released Dec. 21, 2011, and followed by two other movies based on Larsson's Millennium trilogy.
Filming will take place in Sweden, David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) will direct, and Scott Rudin will produce. So far, no one has been cast in the role of Lisbeth Salander, though Ellen Page, Mia Wasikowska and Rooney Mara have been mentioned.
In a PEOPLE Poll, readers selected Kristen Stewart to play the disaffected and heavily pierced 24-year-old computer hacker with a photographic memory and a violent temper, from a pool that also included Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman.
For now, Craig is wrapping up filming director Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens, costarring Harrison Ford and Sam Rockwell.
As for when audiences might expect the next adventure in the nearly half-a-century-old 007 movie series, to which Craig contributed memorable turns in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, don't hold your breath. The parent studio, MGM, is plum out of cash – to the tune of $4 billion in debt, according to the Hollywood Reporter. As of April, production on the 23rd installment, to have starred Craig, has been on hold.
"It's a business problem that will be solved, and then Bond will be back," Salt director Phillip Noyce opined for the trade paper. "There's still a lot of hunger out there for the Bond story."