Battle of the Bonds

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Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki




Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki
Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki





In 1983, two James Bond films came out in theaters: Never Say Never Again, starring Sean Connery, and Octopussy, starring Roger Moore. How did this happen?

It all started when Irish producer Kevin McClory helped Ian Fleming develop the storyline for a proposed film back in the late 1950s. That film project didn't materialize and Fleming later used the story for the book Thunderball. This would be the start of one of the longest legal battles over film rights in the history of cinema.

McClory sued Fleming which was settled when McClory retained the rights to Blofeld, SPECTRE and the novel Thunderball, which he immediately made plans to make into a film, wanting to cash in on the growing popularity of the Eon productions James Bond films. Producers Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had originally wanted to make Thunderball the first James Bond film, but due to the McClory lawsuit, they shelved those plans and instead made Dr. No, and the rest was history. McClory wanted to make his Thunderball film with Sean Connery, but as the star was now the hottest thing and under contract to Broccoli and Saltzman, he was not available.

So, a compromise was reached between Broccoli/Saltzman and McClory. McClory was given producer credit on the 1965 Thunderball film while Broccoli and Saltzman would only "present" it, with the stipulation that McClory not try and re-make Thunderball for ten years (Broccoli and Saltzman presuming that the series wouldn't last that long!).




Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki
Cubby Broccoli and Kevin McClory at the Thunderball world premiere in Tokyo




Once that restriction expired, McClory began to create his own James Bond scenario using the characters and situations that he was legally allowed, first as "James Bond of the Secret Service", then as "Warhead". Collaborating on this screenplay were spy novels writer Len Deighton, as well as Sean Connery himself, who quarrelled with Broccoli and Saltzman and left the role after You Only Live Twice, feeling he was unjustly paid compared to the amount of work and oppressive media attention he was receiving at the time. He would come back in the series for one last film in 1971, Diamonds Are Forever, which was also the last time Eon producers would use Blofeld and SPECTRE before years.




Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki



Suits and counter-suits were filed between McClory and Bond producer Albert Broccoli's EON Productions (Saltzman sold his production rights after The Man With The Golden Gun). Finally, once all the legal dust had settled, McClory had the freedom to make his Thunderball remake, which, poking fun at Connery's vow to "never again" play 007, was entitled Never Say Never Again.

Following For Yours Eyes Only, Roger Moore had expressed a desire to stop playing James Bond. However, when Never Say Never Again was announced, EON producers stopped searching for an actor to replace Moore and re-contracted him for their next film, Octopussy, estimating that an established actor in the role would fare better against Connery.




Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki



Never Say Never Again wound up being released in 1983, which was also when Octopussy was released, leading to what was nicknamed "the Battle of the Bonds". In the end, Octopussy grossed $183,7 million and NSNA ended up grossing 160 million at the box office. Octopussy thus won by a small margin.




Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki
Roger Moore and Sean Connery




Wait! It got worse... McClory tried for many years afterwards to make YET ANOTHER REMAKE of Thunderball, with the title "Warhead", going so far as to sell his Thunderball rights to Sony Pictures. Once again, a long, protracted legal battle ensued with the issue coming down to who legally had the rights to make James Bond movies. After years of litigation, EON came out with that distinction, with the added bonus of retaining the rights to the other Fleming title not under their blanket deal, Casino Royale, which had previously been made into a comedy in 1967 by Sony's picture-making acquisition, Columbia Pictures. In addition, they were given the rights to Never Say Never Again, as well! (See how this all comes around?) Ironically, Sony acquired EON Productions' Bond-producing partners United Artists and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in a take-over, so EON, now possessed of the rights, made the first "true" Casino Royale motion picture in 2006. It was done under the auspices of their former nemesis in court, Sony-Columbia Pictures. It's a funny old world, ain't it?

Kevin McClory died on 20 November 2006 at age 80, four days after the British release of Casino Royale. In 2013, McClory's estate sold any remaining stake in 007 to Danjaq, bringing the long-running legal dispute to an end. As a result, Eon producers were free to use Blofeld and SPECTRE again. It culminated with the release of Spectre in fall 2015.




Battle of the Bonds - James Bond Wiki