MI6 looks back at the history of Bond 18 script
and the variety of sequences and characters that
differed from the final film...
Tomorrow Never Dies Script History (2)
23rd December 2007
part one of this series, MI6 investigated the history
of the script for the 18th James Bond film, which
would be later dubbed "Tomorrow Never Dies".
Never Dies - Script History (Act I)
Ten years since the release of "Tomorrow
Never Dies", MI6 takes an in depth look at the initial
August 2006 draft by Bruce Feirstein with sequences,
characters and locations that never made it to the final
With just a week to go before principal
photography was scheduled to start, Feirstein was recalled
and took back
Onboard the British frigate cruising off the coast of Hong Kong,
electronic silence is observed. HMS Indomitable is transporting
a very precious cargo back home to England. This sequence introduces
the British Navy angle that, in the final cut, comes directly
after the titles. In the
first draft, this is introduced almost a third of the way
through Feirstein's original
draft. The name is also altered from the
HMS Indomitable to the HMS Devonshire in the final film.
What follows is a short sequence that would be lost completely
from "Tomorrow Never Dies", but something
very similar can be seen in "The World is Not Enough".
The Feirstein-penned sequence sees a full, regal funeral
Harmsway's late wife. In "The World Is Not Enough" it
is the funeral of Electra King's father. This sequence cuts
quickly to inside Harmsway's highland retreat where he is hearing
from a collection of operatives in a Blofeld-style briefing.
Ultimately, the scene is juggled around and appears earlier
in the later drafts and the entire briefing is done via video-wall.
Back onboard HMS Indomitable, we find it is being tracked
by the Sea Dolphin II and at the poignant moment "the
worm" (later the "sea drill") is launched
to sink the frigate.
Yung and Harmsway watch from the
bows of the launch as the gigantic Indomitable sinks.
Divers go in after the ship for its precious cargo.
Left: The HMS Argyll,
a Royal Navy Frigate as the Indomitable would have been
Back at MI6, Bond receives a dressing down from
British officials for "losing the Sea Dolphin" and
it is revealed that one third of UK gold was transported onboard
when she went missing. Bond tries to prove a link between the
sabotaged ship and Elliott Harmsway (hinted as a revenge for
Paris' death) but nevertheless M assigns Bond to investigate
the missing bullion without assuming Harmsway's involvement -
to her the old investigation is at a dead end.
In the later drafts of "Tomorrow Never Dies" Elliott Carver has the Devonshire hijacked in order to retrieve sea-to-air missiles (a means to conclude his deadly plan), yet in Feirstein's plot, it would seem the retrieval of the bullion was an extra bonus.
Elliott Harmsway has arrived in Hong Kong to do business with
General Li - a leader in the Chinese Army. He is selling
up shares in his Hong Kong enterprises and hopes the corrupt
General will buy them. General Chang in the final film
is probably inspired by the original character of General
share quite different roles in the mish-mash plot. In the
final film Chang is only seen in passing, but it understand
he is the backer of Carver in his Hong Kong dealings -
the construction of the stealth ship.
Bond is aboard a Sea King Helicopter, searching the waters
south of China for the missing Indomitable. Meanwhile,
Elliot is preparing the news he himself caused. With no luck
searching by air, Bond rendezvous with Jack Wade of the CIA
to search by boat. This sequence appears slightly jumbled
by comparison with the final draft - in the shooting script
Bond meets with Wade first and uses the bargaining power
of the CIA to arrange
a HALO jump into the Vietnamese waters.
Above: High rises of Hong Kong are a key location in the Feirstein draft, however the final cut takes the action to Vietnam...
Feirstein's first draft sees Bond and Wade check
the harbour masters office for reports and charts of the area.
They discover they are not the only ones interested in the evening
of the attack.
Above: Jack Wade returns from GoldenEye.
Propping the Bar Up
Investigating a lead, Bond finds himself at the Kuala Lumpa
Wade keeps the locals busy at the card
table while Bond gets down to business - that is of course,
until gorgeous girl ordering Bourbon at the bar catches
Bond's attention. Enter Sidney Winch.
Feirstein does not introduce the key
Bond-girl until over half way through his screenplay. Banter
is exchanged and 007 watches as Sidney's dinner date arrives
- "Uncle Elliott".
Sidney was quickly scrapped from the "Tomorrow Never Dies" script - with such little screen time to make an impression on the audience, it was a wise move to introduce Wai Lin of the Chinese secret service, much earlier in the piece.
Bond is at a disused peer, a short walk from the Yacht Club. At
the far end a boat is moored, and Bond climbs aboard. From within
the boat comes the immortal voice, "You're late double-oh-seven!"” Q
has not been forgotten entirely.
Q arms Bond with the ultimate
weapon - at this stage the brand and model of the car had
not been identified but it is clear from Feirstein's early
work that his vision is just as gadget-laden as the BMW
750il that makes it on screen. Q also
supplies 007 with detailed maps and the last reported GPS
coordinates of the HMS Indomitable.
The following morning, Wade and Bond are
out on the water again, scouring for the sunken vessel.
At the location pin-pointed by Q's data, Bond dives in.
finding the empty shell of the frigate, Bond returns to
the surface only to confront Sidney - who had been diving
at the wreck too.
Above: Filmmakers couldn't completely let go of Q on "Tomorrow
This sequence is reminiscent of Bond's infiltration
of Carver's launch party in Hamburg and the rendezvous with Paris
that appears in the final script, but the location and various
characters appear differently. The same purpose is served: Bond
learns the location of the stolen goods and reunites with his
In Feirstein's initial draft, Bond and the girl
come face to face diving at the wreck of the British frigate
(as 007 and Wai Lin do in the final film) but the circumstances
and placement of this scene differ greatly. The final film, not
pausing in between for the Bond Girl or Q, makes less of the
searching for the ship and has a much punchier pace.
Stay tuned to MI6 for the
final two acts of the plot as well as other features and facts
in the "Tomorrow Never Dies" 10th Anniversary season
Never Dies - Script History (Act 1)
Never Dies - Script History (Act 2)
Never Dies - Script History (Act 3)
Tomorrow Never Dies - Production Notes
Tomorrow Never Dies - Movie Index