2000 - The Lost Bond Film
Kevin McClory announced in Variety magazine that he was planning to
produce another Thunderball remake to go up against Bond 18 (which
eventually became Tomorrow Never Dies). "I'm back in the Bond business
because I have a couple of films I want to direct and Bond can provide
the finance," McClory said. "I didn't want to make another Bond film,
but now that I've come this far, I'm enjoying it immensely. The film
will be called Warhead 2000 and an actor has been chosen to play Bond.
But we won't announce it yet to keep the competition in the dark. No,
it's not Sean Connery. He's too old for the part now. But he has said
he would play the villain in a James Bond film if the price was right."
With the venerable franchise flourishing again with the success of
1995's GoldenEye, McClory seemed intent on one more attempt to
gatecrash the latest James Bond boom.
An interesting twist to the saga was supplied by the presence of John
Calley as head of Sony. Sony announced they were set to work with
McClory on the new film. Calley had been president of MGM's United
artists, the studio who helped resurrect the series with GoldenEye. "We
are satisfied that McClory has the right to make James Bond," said
Calley. "Any claim that (McClory) can create a James Bond franchise is
delusional," said the other (official) side. "We hope that Sony has not
been duped by Mr McClory's deception. Today, more than ever, we will
vigorously pursue all means to protect this valued franchise that
United Artists and the Broccoli family have nurtured for more than
three decades." "Although they [MGM] are trying to depict us as
interlopers, we were in fact innovators," McClory responded in an
interview with the Associated Press. "MGM's rights came after our
rights. There is no doubt about this: We created our work with
Calley negotiated a deal with McClory to make the new film under
Columbia pictures. "The new James Bond films emphasize our commitment
to create motion picture franchises that serve as tentpoles for our
release schedule and create business opportunities throughout the Sony
family," Calley said in a statement. The Sunday Times ran an article
which suggested that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the team behind
Independence Day and Godzilla, were working with Sony on the new film.
Devlin later set the record straight and said that while he was a Bond
fan, he had no knowledge of any James Bond film being planned at Sony.
Nonetheless speculation was rife that 67 year-old Sean Connery would
either be asked to play James Bond or the villain. In 1998 The Express
announced that 35 year-old Jason (son of Sean) Connery was the man they
wanted to play Bond. This twist was quashed by Connery's agent who said
that Jason had not been approached or discussed James Bond with anyone.
Unsurprisingly this saga soon ended up in a courtroom. Sony announced
in its claim that the cinematic Bond character is not only separate
from the literary secret agent, but is partly McClory's creation, and
therefore co-owned by him. And because of his ownership of the Bond
character, Sony said, McClory is owed some portion of the estimated $3
billion the franchise has generated. "As a consequence of his joint
authorship, McClory has at all times been at least a co-owner of
copyright in and to the McClory scripts and all their elements,
including the James Bond character as delineated therein," said Sony.
"Consequently, McClory (and now Sony) may freely exploit the McClory
"The defendant's response confirms our strongly held belief that Sony
was delusional in asserting that it can launch a new series of James
Bond films," countered MGM. "Expanding radically upon Kevin McClory's
time-worn assertion of his rights to make James Bond movies based on
Thunderball, Sony now makes completely unfounded new claims." The huge
gap between McClory's last assertion of his 007 rights didn't help his
case. MGM dubbed McClory the "Rip Van Winkle of copyright laws. He has
been sleeping on his putative rights for over 20 years." MGM were also
aggrieved that John Calley, with his inside information on producing
and marketing a James Bond film (GoldenEye), was now working against
them. Warhead 2000 seemed to undergo a change of title to Doomday 2000
in articles but, whatever it was called, the project was doomed to
Despite the sabre-rattling, Warhead 2000 was eventually abandoned in
1999 after Sony settled out of court with MGM/UA, ceding any rights to
making a James Bond film. The production and final say over everything
involving the film version of James Bond remained controlled by EON
Productions, Albert R. Broccoli's production company and its parent
company Danjaq, LLC.
The lawsuit was thrown out in 2000 on the ground that McClory had
waited too long to bring his claims. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
later affirmed this decision in 2001. "Essentially," said Sony attorney
David W. Steuber, "we have given up the universal right to make a James
Perhaps the most interesting question left by the Warhead 2000 saga is
this: Who exactly would have played James Bond in a late nineties
renegade James Bond film? Assuming they hadn't gone for a last minute
Hollywood star - George Clooney as James Bond anyone? - the candidates
appeared to be the following:
years-old but still spry. Would he have bowed to pressure? Would they
seriously have asked a man ten years older than Roger Moore was in A
View To A Kill to play James Bond? My guess would be no on both counts.
- Not as
far-fetched as it sounds. His career never quite took off but the
younger Connery had a bit of dash about him and the family name.
former official James Bond was heavily linked to Warhead but his close
friendship with the Broccoli family and loyalty to Eon would definitely
have made this a non-starter.
someone at Sony had seen Croupier before they cast the part...then Owen
would have been a bold choice. His low-profile and the possibility of
becoming the 'official' James Bond in the future would have counted
- A solid if
not exciting candidate, Neeson would probably have been the compromise
choice. A good actor too. If I was put back in 1997 and was asked to
place a bet on the actor to play 007 in Warhead 2000, my money would
have been on Neeson.
- Michael Cooper