Who`s in it: No stars are firmly attached, though McClory, in interviews has stated Connery is interested in playing the villian. He`s also expressed an interest in getting Timothy Dalton to play Bond. Thanks to `Peril` and `fotball` for their help.
Who`s directing it: No director has been announced.
Who`s writing it: Presumably Kevin McClory, but expect others to do rewrite duties.
Who`s scoring it: Possible names include John Barry, but that`s very doubtful. The Bond theme is the property of EON and MGM/UA. Barry is unlikely to ever score a Bond picture again if he doesn`t have access to that material.
When will it be released: Never.
Locations covered: Ireland, New York and Australia.
The Path to Warhead 2001 A.D
The James Bond 007 franchise has been the most sucessful movie series of all time, in part because the legal rights have been owned by the same studio and the same family over the years. So how is it that Never Say Never Again and the proposed Warhead 2001 A.D have managed to be made or considered outside the scope of the Broccoli family (the owners of the films rights) or MGM/UA (the studio with distribution rights)?
1959-1965 Back in the late 1950`s, Bond author Ian Fleming began collaborating with screenwriter Kevin McClory. McClory had convinced Fleming, who at the time was trying to adapt his novels into working screenplays, that perhaps the first Bond film should not be based upon one of Fleming`s novels, but instead should be based on a wholly original script. Fleming agreed, and in time they were joined by Jack Whittingham. Several versions of “78 Longtitude West”, which would eventually become the basis of the novelThunderball were developed. The original financing for the film that McClory had hoped for fell through, and this seemed to precipitate the dissolution of the scriptwriting team.
Fleming retreated to Jamaica where he innocently (or not depending upon whose telling the story) took many of the ideas from the discarded “78 Longtitude West” scripts and turned them into his latest novel titled Thunderball. The name Thunderball was based on an old NATO term for stolen nuclear bombs.
Kevin McClory got a copy of Fleming`s work within weeks of it going to press in 1961, and of course was furious. Many of his ideas and collaborations ended up in a novel that he got no credit for. He sought an injuction against the book, but it was too late. So he sued, and ended up settling the case before it went to trial. Included in this judgement were the film (and T.V rights that are in dispute) to Thunderball. But it took nearly 3 years to resolve the suit and by that time Bond was big in both literature and on the screen. McClory shopped his rights around to other studios, but no one wanted to challenge the MGM/UA team, nor it`s ever increasingly popular star, Sean Connery.
McClory finally approached Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, then co-producers of the series, and discussed selling the film rights to Thunderball to them. McClory sold his rights to Thunderball for 20% of the film`s profit, a producer`s credit, and the option to remake Thunderball 10 years after it`s inital release date. Because Thunderball was so huge at the box office (adjusted for inflation, it made the same amount of money as Jurassic Park) McClory became rich and he got to work with top star Sean Connery. He was happy. And both Broccoli and Saltzman were happy, because it seemed like the legal issues were resolved, and neither one imagined that Bond would still be alive and kicking 10 years later. They assumed, wrongly, that Bond mania would have run it`s course by then.
1975- 1983 After the ten year period was up, McClory did begin trying to exercise his option to remake Thunderball. Why is up for debate. Money? Probably. But other things had happened that may have convinced him to strike now while he still could. Obviously he had to wait the ten year period out, but 1974-75 brought changes to the real Bond series that McClory may have felt comfortable trying to exploit. After the failure of The Man With The Golden Gun at the box office, it looked like the 007 series was losing it`s steam and it`s audience. Harry Saltzman sold his half of the series to Albert Broccoli. Broccoli was determined to show that Bond was still viable, and he didn`t need another Bond project interfering and competing with what would eventually become Bond`s comeback.
Broccoli began fighting McClory in court, trying to stop him from producing his version of a Bond film. It was a losing battle. No one could honestly dispute that McClory had the legal right to do Bond, so the best thing Broccoli could hope for was to keep McClory honest. That was a job in itself. Original versions of McClory`s script entitled “James Bond of Her Majestey`s Secret Service” and it`s alternate title “Warhead” strayed too far from the Thunderball premise. Elements in the script included robotic sharks swimming through the sewers of underground Manhattan, and a spectacular climactic fight on top of the Statue of Liberty.
Between 1976 and 1981 McClory shopped his rights around, but to no avail. With the enormous success of both The Spy Who Love Me and Moonraker, no other studio wanted to touch the legal issues nor fight against a proven, revitalized, and rejuvinated box office winner. That is until McClory convinced Sean Connery to return.
Up to this point, Connery had been standoff-ish about returning as Bond. But McClory gave Connery script duties, as well as producers credit on the film. With job duties involving more than simply starring, Connery`s interest was peaked and soon the ball got rolling on what would become Never Say Never Again.
1983 to the present Never Say Never Again hit U.S. theaters in 1983 and was a moderate success. Octopussy, on the other hand, came out several months beforehand and was an unqualified smash. Still, the news was that Connery was back, and no one seemed to mind the decidedly lackluster results in `Never`. The film did well enough in America and overseas to get McClory talking about about making more films. But that`s all it`s been. Just talk.
For all of McClory`s latest manueverings and deep pocket backing (Sony), his strategy seems to be the same as it always has been; to essentially push the envelope and test EON`s resolve to protect it`s assests. The feud goes back as long as many Bond fans have been around, and after you read McClory`s press release from July 20th, 1989, you`ll understand that there is bitter hatred between the two camps, personal egos in play, and a war in progress.
Though the war traces it`s roots back to the late 1950`s, we`re dipping into the archives of the mid-1980`s onward with articles and advertisements from both sides that show nothing McClory is trying now is really anything new. Starting with the February 15th, 1984 issue of Variety, McClory set off a new round of acrimony by announcing the following:
Paradise Film Productions III
(Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism and Extortion)
An important announcement
will be made shortly.
(Producers, Thunderball, Executive Producer “Never Say Never Again”)
Apparently, flush with pride from the fairly successful Never Say Never Again, McClory decided to try and “license or sell certain James Bond properties including “SPECTRE”. In the Wednesday, May 9th edition of Variety, McClory took out another full page ad, this time proclaiming:
Paradise Film Productions III
Have Acquired The Right
To License or Sell Certain
Special Executive For Counter Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion
Bids Will Be Considered Shortly
Nothing much happened on the McClory front until February of 1988. This time McClory took out another Variety ad dated February 10th, 1988 and stated the following:
With It`s Chairman
Ernst Stavros Blofeld
to the JAMES BOND novel
(Published in 1961)
“THUNDERBALL” was based on “Film Scripts” written
& Ian Fleming
Prior to June 4th 1960
NOTE: The Organization SPECTRE was used as Bond`s adversaries in several of the James Bond films which were based on novels in which the Organization SPECTRE did not exist; including the first two films in the series, DR. NO , FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE 
THE SPECTRE CORPORATION HAS ACQUIRED THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO OFFER LICENSES TO MAKE
United Artists immediately followed that announcement up with one of their own: a warning What follows is a Spring and Summer full of ads placed in Variety, with each side touting that they have the rights the other side is claiming to possess. To view a copy of United Artists own counterclaim in Variety, click here for Warning Page One and here for Warning Page Two.
The following month of April found McClory returning fire against United Artists, calling them “Economical With The Truth!”. To read his ad in Varitey, click here for “Economical With The Truth Part One” and here for Part Two
But that wasn`t the end of it. During that Spring and Summer, McClory would issue three more warnings all saying pretty much the same thing. On August 3rd, 1988 he issued a new ad in Variety: “PIRACY” which will be displayed in the future. In the ad he warns UA, Danjaq and Broccoli they have no right to Blofeld or SPECTRE. He also reasserted his desire to create an animated Bond film. That led to nothing on his part because EON was able to squash the whole plan of McClory`s. It did lead to James Bond Jr though, an 60+ episode that featured James Bond`s nephew. The cartoon was meant as more of a counter point to McClory`s project than anything else, and helped to diminish the value of any future McClory animated projects.
With his planned projects alternatively titled SPECTRE vs. JAMES BOND, and WARHEAD 8 dead in the water, and angry over “The New Official James Bond Book” released in 1989 that seemed to ignore Kevin, McClory released a lengthy press report stating his side of the facts In it he describes, and possibly exaggerates ???? his contribution to the Bond series. At one point he refers to himself and Jack Whittingham thusly : “McClory and Whittingham were originators, not interlopers”. He also alludes to being at the “Conception of the Literary Evolution of the James Bond films”.
Click here for Press Release Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four, Page Five, Page Six, and Page Seven. It would appear Kevin McClory has made more of his contribution to the legacy of James Bond than his contribution merits. The language in the press release issued nearly 9 years ago is very similar to the language used today. Same tactics. Same strategy. Same angles. It seems like the only ones who are getting rich off this feud are the lawyers and Variety.
But will Warhead 2001 A.D. really happen? Should it even be allowed to happen? Please read our commentary, pro and con, and decide for yourself.