MI6 looks back at the pre-production stage of Bond's big return in the 1995 film "GoldenEye"...

GoldenEye - The Road To Production
24th June 2003

GoldenEye marked Bond's big comeback to the silver screen in 1995, after and absence of six long years. The hiatus in the series was created by various legal battles, false starts, and the hunt for a new James Bond.

Doom And Gloom

Following the the disappointing box office returns for Licence to Kill in 1989, it was clear to everyone - and the money men - that the series needed a shake up. Albert R. Broccoli, disheartened at the way that the Bond franchise was going, had put Danjaq, the Swiss based parent company of the Bond production office, Eon, up for sale at the turn of the 90s. After parting company with 13-times Bond write Richard Maibaum (who sadly died a year later) and five-times director John Glen, fresh blood was going to have to be transfused into the Bond family.

To make matters worse, shortly after United Artists (the rights holders to the Bond series) had been sold to the Australian broadcasting group Quintex, Danjaq issued a writ against MGM/UA and its new chairman to protect the TV distribution rights of the series from being devalued.

After a new chairman was appointed in 1992, with the legal battle still unresolved, MGM/UA wanted to kick-start the series again - but with a new Bond. This caused yet another conflict when Broccoli stated that Dalton should fulfil his three picture contract and remain on as Bond.

To fog cleared for "Bond 17" (which would later become "GoldenEye") in 1993 when a new "Bond friendly" regime took over the helm of MGM/UA, and most importantly, were willing to talk on Broccoli's terms.

Later that summer, the first news of the production started to appear in the media. Timothy Dalton, still James Bond at that time, said Michael France would be writing the film's screenplay and that production was set to begin in January or February of 1994.

Handing Over The PPK

After a frustrating start to 1994, when production had been rumoured to start, Timothy Dalton announced on April 12th that he would not be returning as James Bond. Just when all the pieces were falling into place for the film, the producers were suddenly left without a leading man..

In step Pierce Brosnan, who won through a screen-testing session of 10 actors to become the fifth James Bond. As with Moore and Dalton before him, Brosnan had been previously considered for the role, and the media went wild - often headlining that Brosnan was `born to be Bond`.

Write, Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite...

Dalton's earlier claim that Michael France was writing the new film proved accurate when production details were officially announced. France had created a first draft screenplay with Dalton in mind and, when Brosnan came on board, it was rewritten by British writer Jeffrey Caine who retained a lot of France's original ideas, but added new angles to the piece. Although the battle between 007 and the treacherous 006 was the centre piece of France's first draft, it was Caine who added the nine-years-previously prologue that opens the finished film. A third writer, Kevin Wade, was brought in to polish the script, followed by final tinkering by Bruce Feirstein,who would later go on to write "Tomorrow Never Dies" and work on "The World Is Not Enough".

This complex arrangement was acknowledged on-screen with Caine and Feirstein sharing a screenplay credit while France was only credited with creating the story. There was no on-screen credit for Wade, although the CIA character he created - Jack Wade was named after him as an acknowledgement.

Michael France spoke recently with FilmForce and revealed his feelings on "GoldenEye":
"I was a little undercredited on that movie – I wrote most of the screenplay but somehow got the booby prize 'story' credit when it was arbitrated – and that stung, but that's not what I mean by disappointment. "

Much of France's first draft survived the three rewrites, although his exhilarating opening sequence with Bond chasing the EuroStar train in his car and eventually driving onboard, was cut in favour of the Trevelyan prologue (this idea was later be pillaged by "Mission: Impossible").

France explained more about the changes in his FilmForce interview:
"I wrote a script that had bigger dramatic moments between Bond and Trevelyan, and a great many different action moments (which the producers have basically put in the bank – they pulled moments of my script out to use in The World Is Not Enough, and I suppose we may see more later), and I didn't think that the substitutions made during production were any improvement on what I wrote. In other words, standard first draft writer whininess. "

Lost In The Drafts

The scene lifted from the "GoldenEye" first draft and planted in "The World Is Not Enough" concerned helicopters with saw blades. Originally planned for the Monte Carlo car sequence at the start of the film, it was replaced with Xenia's Ferrari, but would reappear four years later thanks to Elektra King.

Another key scene that was cut from France's first draft saw Bond in Moscow infiltrating KGB headquarters on the track of leading scientists who had been mysteriously disappearing around the world. Jeffrey Caine, who performed the first rewrite, was reported to have felt uneasy about the `mystery` element of France's plot, and simplified the film's story.

The final major script change followed a meeting between director Martin Campbell and (the final writer) Bruce Feirstein where they decided to make the new M female, and create a whole new relationship between Bond and his boss.

No More False Starts?

The finished screenplay was heartily endorsed by Campbell, who enthused about its capturing of the spirit of the earlier films. Just as production was to begin, Pinewood Studios hadn't waited for Bond and was fully booked. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, now at the helm of the project following Cubby Broccoli's ill health, discovered a hug abandoned Rolls Royce factory at Leavesdon Aerodrome in Hertfordshire. The factory had closed down two years previously and the vast buildings, sitting in 150 acres of land, were ideal for the film. Work began on creating the first new British film studios in decades and by June 1994, six sound stages were ready for use.

Production of "Bond 17" finally began on Monday January 16th 1995 at Eon Studios - Leavesdon.