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Bloodless Coup

7th May 2020

The day in 1990 when long-standing crew were cleared out

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Timothy Dalton's second outing as James Bond in 1989's 'Licence To Kill' did not do well at the US box-office, but plans were already in motion to start work on his third film. The lackluster financial returns on his second film lead to some changes in the regular crew, many of which had been with the franchise for decades.

Thirteen-time Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum and regular Bond director John Glen did not return to work on 'Bond 17', both leaving EON on 'amicable' terms in August 1990. Months prior to their public departure, EON had been working behind the scenes with new talent.

The news about the changing of the guard broke on August 8th, 1990, in a piece in trade paper Variety. Maibaum and Glen shared the same agent, Spiros Skourus, who said: "They had made many pictures together and worked together for a long, long time. It was a great thing for everyone involved.

Maibaum went on the record himself, saying: "I'm not upset about it. It was by mutual consent. Neither Mr. Glen or myself has any commitment beyond 'Licence To Kill' and so the company was free to do whatsoever they wanted. I just wish everybody well on the whole enterprise. I've enjoyed working with them and am proud of the work that I've done."

Despite trade press reports of a "bloodless coup", some were clearly bruised. John Glen came to the end of his unprecedented run of helming five consecutive Bond films with a disappointing US box-office for and the formula needed shaking up. An EON spokesperson added insult to injury when stating to Variety that writer Maibaum was a 'has been'.

Three months earlier, a 17-page treatment by newcomer screenwriter Alfonse M. Ruggiero Jr. and Bond veteran Michael G. Wilson was drafted with a tentative shooting date set, arranged to begin in Hong Kong, and with the aim of a late 1991 release. It was not to be...

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