Blofeld could be back in James Bond’s crosshairs following legal deal
Resolution of long-running dispute with estate of Kevin McClory could pave way for cat-stroking mastermind to return to regenerated Bond franchise, as well as his uber-evil organisation, SPECTRE
The James Bond film series is free to incorporate classic elements such as the villain Blofeld and nefarious organisation SPECTRE once again after settling a long-running legal case with the estate of 007 co-creator Kevin McClory.
A dispute over rights to the suave British spy has been ongoing since 1959, when writer McClory suggested a Bond film set in the Bahamas to Ian Fleming. The idea eventually came to form the basis of the novel Thunderball, as well as its 1965 film adaptation. Fleming and McClory collaborated on the third Bond film, which introduced both Blofeld and SPECTRE, but courts later ruled that the Dublin-born writer owned significant elements of the 007 mythos, and he was able to produce the ”unofficial” 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again, which restored Sean Connery to the role.
Now McClory’s family has sold any remaining stake in 007 to Danjaq, maker of the Bond films via its better known subsidiary Eon, and distributor MGM. In later years McClory, who died in 2006, had found himself legally prohibited from making new Bond films, but the move does mean rights to characters introduced in Thunderball are once more ripe for inclusion in future instalments.
”Danjaq, LLC, the producer of the James Bond films, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the longtime distributor of the Bond films, along with the estate and family of the late Kevin McClory, announced today that Danjaq and MGM have acquired all of the estate’s and family’s rights and interests relating to James Bond, thus bringing to an amicable conclusion the legal and business disputes that have arisen periodically for over 50 years,” said the parties in a statement.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is perhaps the iconic Bond villain, variously portrayed on the big screen by Donald Pleasance, Charles Gray, Telly Savalas and Max Von Sydow, as well as inspiring the character of Dr Evil in Mike Myers’ Austin Powers films. SPECTRE is an acronym for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, a villainous apolitical organisation which has formed the template for various similar groups in the Bond films and similar efforts.
While the Bond films have moved away from the series’ more cartoonish roots in the last decade, recent 007 entry Skyfall did reintroduce such classic characters as gadget man Q and M’s flirtatious secretary, Moneypenny. The 2006 adaptation of Fleming’s novel Casino Royale also introduced a Spectre-like organisation, Quantum, to take on Bond.
The deal with McClory’s estate also paves the way for Never Say Never Again to be included in official collections. The latter film is considered by many to be a superior movie to 1983’s ”official” Roger Moore-headed Bond film, Octopussy.