One of the most persistent foes that James Bond has ever fought has not been the Soviet assassins of SMERSH but the ongoing legal entanglements between franchise producers Danjaq, LLC and Kevin McClory over the rights to various aspects of the film series, specifically the evil terrorist organization SPECTRE and its bald, cat-stroking leader, Ernst Stravo Blofeld.
According to a press release (via Bleeding Cool), Danjaq and McClorsky’s estate, the writer passed away in 2006, have finally reached a conclusion to their decades long legal tussle as to the ownership of SMERSH and Blofeld.
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.
The SPECTRE and Blofeld concepts were actually created back in the late 1950s, when McClory and Bond’s literary creator Ian Fleming were working on an ultimately aborted attempt to bring the British super spy to the big screen called Thunderball. After the project fell apart, Fleming took the basic story idea and used it as the basis for the Bond novel of the same name. The film franchise got its proper start with the 1962 release of Dr. No.
To chronicle the complete legal back and forths between Eon Productions and McClory you would need a book. Indeed, there has been one written – Robert Sellers’ 2007 The Battle for Bond– and it is well worth the read for fans of the franchise. Along the way, McClory tried to use his claim to the elements he felt he had claim to to launch a rival Bond franchise at Sony Pictures. The result was the 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Meanwhile, the official franchise took a shot at McClory by having Roger Moore’s Bond kill off a Blofeld-esque villain at the start of 1981’s For Your Eyes Only.
So what does this mean for the future of the franchise? For starters, it opens up the possibility for Blofeld to make an appearance in the franchise’s rebooted continuity, a development I am sure that most fans will welcome. I know I do, especially because I got the feeling that the terrorist organization Quantum that we saw in Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace was created as a replacement for SMERSH.
I can’t guarantee that we’ll see Blofeld in Bond 24, which should start production next year for a 2015 release, but I don’t expect the character to be sidelined for too many films.