MGM and Danjaq have acquired all of the rights and interests in James Bond held by the estate of Kevin McClory, ending more than 50 years of litigation between the producers of the franchise and an author who penned Bond scripts with Ian Fleming.
MGM, Danjaq and the estate of McClory issued a statement on Friday saying that they have brought to an “amicable conclusion the legal and business disputes that have arisen periodically for over 50 years.” Details of the settlement were not disclosed.
At the heart of the longtime dispute was a script that McClory wrote with Fleming and writer-for-hire Jack Whittingham in the late 1950s that Fleming later used to turn into the novel “Thunderball,” without giving McClory credit. McClory sued in 1961, and a settlement in which he produced “Thunderball” eventually allowed him rights to retell that movie as 1983’s “Never Say Never Again,” marking the return of Sean Connery in the lead role, and also his last time as 007. It also was the only Bond dramatic feature made outside of the family of producer Cubby Broccoli. In fact, the movie was released the same year as another Bond pic, “Octopussy,” starring Roger Moore.
A ruling in 1983 in London courts held that McClory was allowed to make Bond films. But when McClory later claimed partial ownership over the Bond character in a federal suit filed in Los Angeles, the suit was dismissed in 2000 on the grounds that he waited to long to file his claim. The 9th Circuit upheld the dismissal in 2001.
McClory died in 2006.
The estate was represented by William K. Kane and Adam Skilken of BakerHostetler LLP in Chicago.
“We were pleased to represent the estate of Kevin McClory in bringing to resolution this lengthy and contentious copyright dispute over the James Bond franchise,” Kane said in a statement. “The 50-year intellectual property row involving James Bond was settled because of a great deal of hard work by the attorneys for the estate of Kevin McClory, MGM, and Danjaq and will benefit James Bond film fans throughout the world.”