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MGM and Danjaq acquire all James Bond film rights

By: Anders Frejdh
MGM Danjaq aquire Kevin McClory James Bond
BakerHostetler settles dispute over James Bond rights with MGM and Danjaq, LLC.

MGM and Danjaq, the holding company behind Eon Productions, announced today that it has acquired all of the rights and interests from the estate of Irish producer Kevin McClory (1926-2006).

Thus, the so-called "Battle for Bond" is finally over. This means that the Broccoli family and MGM now owns all rights to the much acclaimed Thunderball (1965) script, including the right to use SPECTRE and its iconic leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

McClory claimed, until his death in 2006, that he helped create the cinematic James Bond and was entitled to a large share of MGM and Danjaq's revenues.

Over 50 years ago, on November 26th 1963, a court case against Ian Fleming started after Kevin McClory had sued Fleming (which lead to McClory getting film rights to "Thunderball"). The reason for the case was that McClory, along with Jack Whittingham, wrote several drafts that later resulted in Ian Fleming's novel Thunderball. When the book was published in 1961, Fleming did not credit McClory (neither Whittingham) who therefore sued Fleming.

For a long time it seemed like a film version of Thunderball could not happen (initially it was supposed to be the first Bond film). Film producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli succeeded in concluding an agreement with McClory. The agreement included a clause that McClory had to wait for at least ten years before he could make a new film adaptation of the book/manuscript drafts. Although the Broccoli family tried to stop McClory's plans for a new film version, a "remake" of Thunderball, he produced Never Say Never Again 1983 starring Sean Connery in his last role as agent 007. (NSNA premiered the same year as the MGM/Eon Productions film Octopussy (1983) featuring Swedish Bond girls Maud Adams, Kristina Wayborn and Mary Stavin.)

In the following years, McClory did several attempts to launch his own Bond film series, with no luck. At one point, he allied himself with Sony and created a project called "Warhead 2000 AD". The project was stopped when MGM took Sony to court. As part of the deal, MGM took over the rights to "Never Say Never Again". A few years later, ironically, Sony signed a partnership with MGM. Since the 2006 film Casino Royale, Sony has co-funded Daniel Craig's James Bond films including Quantum of Solace 2008 and Skyfall (2012) in 2012.

The McClory estate was represented by partners, William K. Kane and Adam Skilken, of the Chicago based company BakerHostetler LLP.

- We were delighted to represent Kevin McClory's estate and put an end to this long and contentious dispute over the copyright to the cinematic James Bond, Kane said in a statement.

- The 50+ years long dispute over copyright infringement involving James Bond was settled thanks to a big amount of hard work from the attorneys of Kevin McClory's estate, MGM and Danjaq and is likely to benefit James Bond fans worldwide in the future.

The exciting thing is what it means in practice. There are now speculations that SPECTRE and "Blofeld" may appear in future James Bond films.

MGM & Danjaq announce acquisition of McClory family's James Bond rights

Los Angeles, CA (November 15, 2013) – 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.

About Danjaq, LLC:
Danjaq is the company that co-owns, with MGM, the copyright in the existing James Bond films and controls the right to produce future James Bond films as well as all worldwide merchandising. The 007 franchise is the longest running in film history with twenty-three films produced since 1962.

About Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and distribution of film and television content globally. The company owns one of the world's deepest libraries of premium film and television content. In addition, MGM has investments in domestic and international television channels.

About BakerHostetler LLP
The Estate of Kevin McClory was represented by Partner William K. Kane (Chicago) and Partner Adam Skilken (Chicago) of the law firm of BakerHostetler LLP.

Editor's note:
In 2008, Robert Sellers' excellent book The Battle For Bond was published by Tomahawk Press. Check it out for more information about the story behind Kevin McClory's James Bond rights.

Photo above:
Kevin McClory, accompanied by wife and heiress Bobo Sigrist, at High Court in London on 3rd December 1963, with a drink after successfully suing English author Ian Fleming, publisher Jonathan Cape Ltd and financier John Bryce, for damages for alleged infringement of copyright. Photo by Dixie Dean. © Mirrorpix. All rights reserved.

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