007 James Bond movies they planned but never made
Admit it: you’d pay to see Tarantino direct a Bond film.
It’s a tough old gig, getting a James Bond film right. For every Casino Royale, there’s a Quantum of Solace. For every Oddjob, there’s a Nick Nack. And for every Nobody Does It Better, there’s a Writing’s On The Wall.
So it’s no surprise that for every finished 007 script, there have been many more missions that never made it to the screen…
CASINO ROYALE directed by QUENTIN TARANTINO
For many years, Bond fans could only dream of a bona-fide big-screen adaptation of Casino Royale, with Eon Productions (producers of the official film series) only securing the rights to Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel in 1999.
The final film, starring Daniel Craig, would finally hit cinemas in 2006. But two years prior, while Pierce Brosnan still held the Bond mantle, none other than Quentin Tarantino was talking up his desire to make Casino Royale.
«I’ve always wanted to do it,» he enthused in May 2004. «I bumped into Pierce Brosnan and we talked about it. He liked the idea.»
Tarantino’s version, like the Craig adaptation, was planned as a fairly faithful adaptation of Fleming’s book — though presumably without the whole ‘rookie 007’ angle.
Tabloid rumours even linked frequent Quentin collaborator Uma Thurman to the part of Bond’s tragic love Vesper Lynd, but when Pierce officially exited the franchise in October 2004, Tarantino lost interest.
«I would have liked to do Casino Royale with Pierce Brosnan,» he said a few months later. «But once I heard Brosnan isn’t going to be doing any more Bond films, that killed it as far as I was concerned.»
ONCE UPON A SPY
Craig has a ‘lost’ Bond film all his own, though: Once Upon A Spy was the name of a treatment penned by Oscar winner Peter Morgan, currently winning rave reviews for his Netflix series The Crown.
Leaked plot details make it sound like a much more bleak version of 2012’s Skyfall, with both films killing off M (Judi Dench) at their climax.
Here, though, it’s Bond himself who’s forced to kill his boss, after she’s caught up in a complex blackmail plot orchestrated by her own illegitimate son — the product of an affair with a KGB agent during the Cold War.
Robert Wade (who, with Neal Purvis, has co-written every 007 film since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough) didn’t hold back in his criticism of Morgan’s rather grim pitch.
«We always found that really, really difficult to make credible or satisfying,» he said in 2015 book Some King of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films. «It was very dark and frankly I don’t think it really worked.»
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
Timothy Dalton’s edgier Bond was arguably ahead of his time, but lasted just two films in the late ’80s — though a third was planned.
The big idea was to release another 007 outing in 1991, with the rumoured title The Property of a Lady, after one of Fleming’s short stories.
But a legal tussle between MGM and Danjaq (owner of the Bond film rights) held up production until 1994, by which time Dalton had decided to bow out.
The planned film would’ve seen Bond deployed to the Far East in the wake of a terrorist attack on a Scottish nuclear facility, to investigate the corrupt businessman Sir Henry Lee Ching.
Crossing paths with the Chinese Secret Service, our suave super-spy teams up with jewel smuggler Connie Webb to expose Ching’s shady past and halt a plot that could spark World War Three.
Heavily rewritten, The Property of a Lady would eventually morph into Brosnan’s 1995 debut Goldeneye — with the opening sequence relocated from Scotland to Russia, and Crisp changed from 007’s mentor to his old partner Alec Trevelyan, 006.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER with GEORGE LAZENBY
Lazenby’s stint as Bond was even shorter than Dalton’s — he appeared in just one outing, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (or, ‘The One where Bond’s wife is tragically killed’).
The original plan for a follow-up was an adaptation of Fleming’s Diamonds are forever that would see Bond on a mission of vengeance, still mourning his murdered wife and hunting her killer Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat).
But when George opted to walk away from the series, plans for a direct sequel to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service were dropped and producers spent a pretty penny to rehire Sean Connery for a rewritten, much lighter version of Diamonds are forever.
We very much doubt the original draft, by veteran 007 screenwriter Richard Maibaum, featured that scene of Blofeld in drag. Though you never know…
Bit of a complicated one, this. But here’s the short version…
In the 1950s, Fleming collaborated with writer and producer Kevin McClory on a pitch for a James Bond television series. When the show didn’t happen, Fleming used the material as the basis for his next 007 novel, Thunderball.
This understandably irked McClory, who sued Fleming and won the film rights to the book. So when Eon Productions adapted Thunderball as a movie in 1965, they had to strike a deal with Kev.
But he retained the film rights and later used them to make a second movie based on Thunderball: 1983’s Never Say Never Again.
This much is pretty widely known, but McClory wasn’t done yet and later attempted to recycle the material again from the late ’80s onwards…
His third film inspired by Thunderball was variously known as Warhead, Atomic Warfare and Warhead 2000, with actors eyed to play 007 including Pierce Brosnan (in 1989 — before his official Bond stint began), Timothy Dalton (in the late ’90s — after his tenure was over) and Liam Neeson (again, in the ’90s — long before taken reestablished the Oscar winner as an action star).
But after much legal wrangling, McClory and Sony settled out of court with MGM / United Artists in 1999, giving up all rights to make a James Bond film and defusing Warhead once and for all.
HITCHCOCK, ALFRED HITCHCOCK
Back when Fleming was first developing the idea that would become Thunderball, he approached none other than Mr. Hitchcock to helm a screen adaptation of 007.
He sent a telegram pitching the project in 1959, but there’s no record on whether or not Hitchcock ever read it or responded to Fleming.
Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, Hitchcock’s most recent film outing at the time was North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant — who, legend has it, would later turn down the part of Bond in Dr. No.
The entire Bond legend as we know it would’ve unfolded very differently if Hitchcock had signed up. Instead, he made a little-seen horror film called Psycho and was never heard from again…
Halle Berry’s “Jinx” Spin-Off
The concept of a female-driven spin-off series originated in 1997 with the Bond thriller Tomorrow Never Dies. Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, whose charisma and fighting skills made her a superstar on the Hong Kong action film circuit, starred as Wai Lin, a master spy in China’s elite Secret Service. The character proved so popular that MGM briefly considered developing a solo film around her. When that didn’t pan out, producers decided to bring her back for the 2002 Bond film Die Another Day. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented Yeoh’s return.
Word of a spin-off series involving Halle Berry’s character Jinx from Die Another Day began circulating while the film was still in theaters. Rumors hinted at a planned winter release in 2004.
«Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired to write the script and, though it was never officially announced, Stephen Frears was on board to direct,» said Chris Wright. «But in late October of the following year, MGM pulled the plug.»
Reasons for its cancellation remain unclear.
When news first broke, a spokesperson for Eon producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson claimed that “creative differences” were involved. But Variety reported that MGM’s decision to nix the film took the EON team by surprise. In any event, no apparent effort was made to set the project up at another studio.
Perhaps Jinx simply wasn’t dynamic enough to build a new franchise around? The character, a skilled NSA operative with a mean left hook, remains more memorable for her stylish orange bikini and Ursula Andress-like entrance than for her originality or depth.
«Not a lot is known about the script itself,» said Tom Sears. «But Purvis and Wade have suggested that their idea was to involve Jinx in a story that would’ve been a lot less excessive than «Die Another Day.»
In 2003 and thanks to an interview Garth Franklin from movie news site DarkHorizons completed with Halle Berry at the annual San Diego Comic Convention, there is official confirmation that a script exists and production is moving forwards.
When questioned about whether she was hopeful of a Jinx movie she said, «I’m hoping, we just got the script last night, the first script and I hear its really really good.» The script is rumoured to have been written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.
«I’ve been talking to the writers about it and they had a great idea about who she is, and where she comes from» added Berry. «I think it won’t be like Bond, its not supposed to be a female Bond, but it is very edgy and I think we’ll have some elements of humour that Bond has because Jinx has that in the Bond movie but it won’t be like Bond».
In 2006 rumors were circulating that the ill-fated Jinx spin-off movie, that would see Halle Berry reprise her character from the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day, may be back on.
Now we know that Berry never signed for that film.