Before James Bond was even a twinkle in Sean Connery’s eye, Ian Fleming joined forces with Irish producer Kevin Mc Clory and writer Jack Whitingham to create a big-screen Bond adventure. The film was never produced and Fleming went on to use this script as the basis for his novel Thunderball. Mc Clory sued Fleming, winning the rights to the story and partial rights to certain James Bond elements –the iconic villain Blofeld and the organisation SPECTRE is one of these. The Broccoli family (along with Harry Saltzman) negotiated with McClory to bring Thunderball to the screen and the result was a massive hit – grossing $63 million at the US box office back in 1965 – more than $600 million in today’s money.
McClory retained the remake rights meaning that he was (potentially) able to tell the Thunderball story in perpetuity. In 1982 he produced Never Say Never Again, which saw Connery return to the role of Bond (Connery also had a gripe with the Broccoli’s over his Bond salary). The film faced-off against Octopussy – both were hits, but the Roger Moore adventure won the box office battle. McClory tried to remake the movie again with Connery and then with Timothy Dalton during the Pierce Brosnan era with a script titled Warhead 2000 A.D. He failed, but his last attempt saw him team with the might of Columbia Pictures and there was a moment when it looked like there could potentially be two James Bond franchises running concurrently. In the end common sense prevailed and Columbia backed-off after MGM gave them their rights to Spider-Man (at that time the web-slinger was languishing in development hell).
Mc Clory passed away in 2006 at the age of 80 and his estate reached an agreement with MGM and Danjaq (the Bond rights owners). Daniel Craig’s 007 was then able to face-off against Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld in 2015’s SPECTRE – the character’s first appearance in an official Bond film since 1971 (a nameless version of the character appeared in Roger Moore‘s For Your Eyes Only in 1981).
This image shows Sean Connery and co-star Adolfo Celi playing golf on the set of the 1965 spy film. Thunderball grossed $65 million at the US box office during its release and $141.2 million worldwide. That’s over $1 billion in today’s money.