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 (3)
2nd January 2008

In parts one and two of this series, MI6 investigated the history of the script for the 18th James Bond film, which would be later dubbed "Tomorrow Never Dies".
Tomorrow Never Dies - Script History (Act 1)
Tomorrow Never Dies - Script History (Act 2)

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 shooting script.

With just a week to go before principal photography was scheduled to start, Feirstein was recalled and took back the reigns.


Face to Face
Its revealed at this point the Sidney's interest is in the lost gold, but Bond cheekily explains "one third of nothing is still nothing" when she demands a share of the gold Bond recovered.


Back on dry land, 007 is still intent to prove Harmsway is behind the missing gold and is mildly taken aback when he receives a telephone call and an invite from Elliott to tour his new Kuala Lumpur building. In later drafts of the script this sequence is split and reworked so that Bond receives the call the morning after the party in Hamburg, and the Kuala Lumpur locations all become Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) and Bond is brought to the Carver headquarters by force.


At the meeting, Harmsway reminisces over his late wife (among other family members) but there's another twist awaiting Bond - Sidney is also invited to tea.

She protests that she knew there was gold on board the ship and that someone must have got there first. She begins to talk herself deeper into trouble. To top it off, the villain reveals that he knows who 007 really is and shows him the KGB dossier on Bond, which has fallen into his hands.

Left: The striking cityscape of Kuala Lumpur...

In an elevator Bond tries to convince Sidney that they are in danger, but she does not listen until the doors of the lift open to reveal Stamper holding a gun. A major battle ensues that climaxes with Bond and Sidney bailing over the side of the building (a similar plunge that Bond and Wai Lin take in the reworked version of this scene).

Bond and the damsel in distress find themselves in the printing works of the complex - a scene that was later reworked as part of the Hamburg sequence - and is held with Bond battling a goon until he falls into the gigantic presses. Out of the print-house into the fire - in the garage Harmsway is waiting with a handful of thugs. To escape, Bond initiates the remote control car and sends the goons scattering. 007 grabs Sidney and dives in the car. The chase is back on! The car exhibits a host of gadgets that fans will remember from the Hamburg garage sequence, however Feirstein's sequence does not conclude with the ease and rapture of the final cut - in this early draft, Bond and Sidney are captured and transported to Hong Kong.


Above: Bond's escape vehicle would ultimately become BMW's 7 series sedan.

Hong Kong Nuclear
Harmsway and Yung stage a break-in at a newly opened nuclear facility - under the guise of an HNN news crew. With the control of the power plant, Harmsway and Stamper use The Worm to sabotage the reactor intake tunnel. Once The Worm reaches the reactor core, the uranium-tipped drill will bore its deadly teeth in and cause a massive explosion, leaving Chernobyl looking like a campfire.

Elliott Harmsway grandly explains to 007 that the nuclear meltdown is revenge against the city of Hong Kong for driving him out - Harmsway tells Bond that he is returning the land just as he found it, a "barren, lifeless rock!"

The plan in itself is not adjusted hugely for the "Tomorrow Never Dies" shooting script. In both plots the villain is manic with revenge against China - Carver is mad that the Chinese government refused him broadcasting rights and deals with it by launching a missile at Beijing. Harmsway's plan has a much more catastrophic ring to it...

Above: A nuclear power plant may have featured during the climax of "Tomorrow Never Dies"

Bond, of course, is set to be left in the midst of the meltdown and once again Harmsway has taken precautions to assure that 007 will be blamed for the sabotage. Bond is locked in the mid-point of the airlock and Harmsway and his cronies depart with Sidney in tow. Yung and a guard remain in the control centre to see the plan completed. While in the airlock, Bond pulls Smithers' gizmos from concealment and rigs them together to make an explosive device. After blowing the door clean off and killing the nearby guard, Bond engages in a tough battle with Yung climaxing with the physicist being thrown through the window of the control office and into the grinding path of the worm. It would seem that this ceases the worm's mission to destroy the reactor. Although this sequence is ultimately dropped from the final draft, the battle and the manor of demise of Yung is recycled and used in the death of Carver - getting masticated by his own sea-drill.


Bond requisitions the helicopter, which was to be Yung's escape route, and heads off in pursuit of Harmsway and Sidney. At first Harmsway's goons assume that it's Yung in the chopper, but soon it takes a massive dive and Bond pilots the chopper ready to attack.

Bond tilts the helicopter almost 90 degrees forwards, using the rotor blades as a lethal weapon. Every "swish" of the blades shatters glass, rips apart the Sea Dolphin and sends several of the goons flying to the depths of the South China Sea. This sequence is echoed in the final draft when Bond is cornered by Carver's thugs in the markets of Saigon.

The battle rages on and the remaining thugs are passed M-16s by Stamper and begin to defend the launch. Harmsway and Sidney are caught in the cabin by the crossfire. One of the men is armed with a rocket launcher and one well-placed rocket sends the chopper spiraling out of control - straight towards the UK gold bullion. Bond bails from the doomed helicopter, taking up the battle by hand.

Left: While "Tomorrow Never Dies" would only piece together the bare essentials of the first draft, the 'chopper' sequence would remain...

He fends of Stamper and heads to the bridge to deal with Harmsway. Whilst the boat is falling apart around them, villain and 007 have the final showdown. The water level quickly reaches the bridge and in the struggle, Bond gets the upper hand and drowns Harmsway. With the death of the media mogul there's only one task left for Bond - find Sidney! Luckily, when the madness broke out on board she escaped the clutches of Harmsway, donned Scuba gear and dived! Bond is reunited with her on the floating life-boat of the Sea Dolphin and Q wires MI6 that Bond is safe and sound.

The credits roll and proclaim, "James Bond Will Return".

The Last Word
When comparing this early draft to any of the finished Bond films, it is clear that much of Feirstein's early work required some major changes before shooting. Although the final script sees some of the characters and sequences dropped from the film, these were on the whole necessary cuts to tie up loose ends and keep the plot clearer and the action straight-forward for its viewers. The initial draft spins many plots and themes together but doesn't hold together as one solid unit. At times, Feirstein's work is loaded with too many twists and not enough explanation to keep to the successful formula of the Bond series.

When the script was ultimately reworked by Spottiswoode and his team, the action was ramped and the plot-lines smoothed out - unfortunately this meant the loss of a variety of colourful characters such as Sidney Winch, Valentin Zukovsky and Signore Digiacomo. "Tomorrow Never Dies" stands up as an action-packed, entertaining James Bond outing, yet most viewers will be blissfully unaware of the number writers and drafts that the 18th Bond outing ploughed through in less than a year of pre-production.


Related Articles
Tomorrow Never Dies - Script History (Act 1)
Tomorrow Never Dies - Script History (Act 2)
Tomorrow Never Dies - Script History (Act 3)
Tomorrow Never Dies - Production Notes
Tomorrow Never Dies - Movie Index