After a legal feud that has lasted more than 50 years, the rights to one of James Bond’s greatest foes have been secured. On November 15, 2013, Danjaq, LLC, the producer of James Bond films, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the distributor of the Bond films, announced they had reached a settlement with the estate of Kevin McClory. The result of this long-lived legal conflict means that the Bond series is free to include Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his terrorist organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in future films.
The fight over the long-coveted properties in the estate began in 1959, when McClory, a writer, first met author Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond franchise. McClory suggested a Bond movie set in the Bahamas to Fleming. This suggestion eventually became Fleming’s novel Thunderball. McClory claimed creation rights with the characters and elements of the book and sued when the book was released without the proper credit. This first dispute was settled in court, which allowed the film adaption of Thunderball to proceed in 1965. Later on, another lawsuit resulted a 1983 court ruling stating McClory owned significant elements of the Bond franchises, including Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and granted writer the right to produce his own James Bond films. McClory used the court’s authority to produce Never Say Never Again that same year. The movie brought back Sean Connery as Bond and faced off against the Roger Moore-led Octopussy in the box office
In later years, McClory lost the rights to make new Bond movies, but retained rights to the characters in Thunderball. The writer passed away in 2006, and his family worked to come up with a deal allowing the properties to be used in future Bond movies. They have agreed to sell the late McClory’s remaining ownership to the 007 franchise to Danjaq and MGM. The parties released this statement after the settlement was approved:
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.
With this achievement, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, arguably the greatest Bond villain, and his agents of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. are now legally allowed to be used in future Bond films. As a Bond fan, I am ecstatic because of the possibilities this agreement has brought to life. After the runaway success of Skyfall, I am quite pleased with the current direction of the franchise. Still, I was disappointed with the antagonists of Casino Royale and (moreso) Quantum of Solace. It took three films for Daniel Craig’s Bond to face off against a memorable adversary, and even Raul Silva’s plan starts to unravel if you put a little thought into what could have gone wrong. Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E. have the resources, organization, international influence, and (most importantly) the intelligence to challenge 007 and MI6. Coupled with the change of management at MI6, the rise of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. certainly has the potential to present a compelling threat for the new leadership of the British spy service.
Do you want to see Blofeld return to the Bond film franchise? Who do you think would be the right pick to portray such a legendary foe against Daniel Craig’s Bond? Let us know in the comment section!