If you are a 21st century fan of the Bond series, then long gaps in between films is nothing new for you. Four years between Die Another Day and Casino Royale. Four years between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. Three years between Skyfall and Spectre, and now five years until the 25th Bond flick is released in 2020. As a child of the 80s, I took for granted the fact that every other year a new 007 adventure would be released. We had five new Bond movies during that decade. By comparison, the Daniel Craig era will end with five films in the span of nearly 15 years!
When discussing a barren time during the franchise, no gap beats the seemingly interminable space between 1989’s Licence to Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye. Or in other words, the lost years of the Bond franchise. The movie-going public missed out on Timothy Dalton’s third outing in 1991 and his potential fourth film in 1993. Dalton never did quite catch on with fans of that time. He was Daniel Craig twenty years too early. The Living Daylights did well at the box office, but his second movie LTK was crushed in the Summer of ’89. Going up against Indiana Jones, Batman, Lethal Weapon, and the Ghostbusters was a tough task. Combine the worst box office numbers in franchise history, with legal issues between EON Productions and MGM, and you have a good understanding as to why we didn’t see 007 again until Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye.
Despite all of this, Dalton’s 3rd movie was set for pre-production in early 1990 with a release date set for Summer 1991. Here’s a look at some of the official details from the script treatment:
The pre-title sequence was set in a chemical weapons laboratory in Scotland, and it involved technicians performing tests with robotic devices. One of the robots goes berserk and the building explodes. The main villain of the story is Sir Henry Lee Ching, described as ‘a brilliant and handsome thirty year old British-Chinese entrepreneur’, who is passionate about science, but doesn’t care much for mankind. Sir Henry planned to unleash a computer virus that would paralyze every military and commercial unit in the world. And of course, only one man can stop him. The climax saw Bond and Sir Henry fighting to the death, with 007 turning a welding torch in the villain’s face.
Taking a time machine back to 1990/1991, and knowing the plot and characters, I’m going to play producer and casting director:
TITLE: Property of a Lady (1991)
TITLE SONG: “Property of a Lady” by Lisa Stansfield
LOCATIONS: Scotland, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong
SCREENWRITERS: Alfonse M. Ruggiero Jr., Michael Wilson, John Landis
DIRECTOR: Michael Caton-Jones
|Main Cast and Characters|
|Timothy Dalton as James Bond||British Secret Agent, 007|
|John Lone as Sir Henry Lee Ching||Microchip Entrepreneur, Bond Villain|
|Lauren Holly as Connie Webb||Ex-jewel thief, Bond Girl #1|
|Oliver Reed as Denholm Crisp||MI6 Agent stationed in Hong Kong, Bond Mentor|
|Yuji Okumoto as Rodin||Ching’s Assassin, Bond Henchman|
|Desmond Llewelyn as Q||MI6 Quartermaster|
|Robert Brown as M||MI6 Section Chief|
|Joan Chen as Mi Wai||Chinese Intelligence Officer, Bond Girl #2|
|Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny||M’s Secretary|
Whether an action movie that sounds like a cross between Short Circuit and Double Impact would have made for a good Bond flick, who knows?! But I’m content with my casting choices.
Here is the official poster for the movie. It was hanging at the Carlton Hotel in Cannes, France during the 1990 film festival.
So in my alternate Bond universe, where production is running smoothly and Dalton is ready to film his fourth (and probably final) turn as the world’s most famous secret agent, what would have been his next movie? This is where Goldeneye comes in. This is also where I come in to play producer/casting director again.
Michael France is hired to pen the new Bond adventure. Richard Smith is also brought on to help the plot.
- France’s script is titled “Goldeneye”.
- It has many elements of an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie in pre-production called “True Lies”. That movie is set for release in Summer 1994, while this Bond film is set for Summer 1993.
TITLE: Goldeneye (1993)
LOCATIONS: French countryside (pre-title sequence), London, St. Petersburg, Cuba/Puerto Rico
SCREENWRITERS: Michael France, Richard Smith
DIRECTOR: Russell Mulcahy
MAIN CAST OF CHARACTERS:
Timothy Dalton as James Bond 007
Anthony Hopkins as Alec Trevelyan, the main villain. Older agent. 006. Former mentor to Bond. Plans to start a war between England and Russia.
Paulina Porizkova as Marina, Bond Girl #1. Computer technician.
Eva Herzigova as Xenia Labyakova. Henchwoman for Trevelyan. Bond Girl #2
John Rhys-Davies as General Pushkin. Russian General, longtime Bond ally.
Elya Baskin as Alexei. Ally of Marina, who double crosses her to help Trevelyan and Xenia.
Desmond Llewelyn as Q
Robert Brown as M
Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny
Dalton never got his 1991 movie or his 1993 movie. What did he have to say about the situation?
Dalton explained: “When [the next movie] did come about, it was probably four or five years later.
“[Broccoli] asked if I would come back, and I said, ‘Well, I’ve actually changed my mind a little bit. I think that I’d love to do one.
“‘Try and take the best of the two that I have done, and consolidate them into a third.’”
Dalton continued: “And he said, quite rightly, ‘Look, Tim. You can’t do one. There’s no way, after a five-year gap between movies that you can come back and just do one. You’d have to plan on four or five.’
“And I thought, ‘Oh, no, that would be the rest of my life. Too much. Too long.’ So I respectfully declined.”
My take on all of this? As much as I would have loved to seen my cast in the original Goldeneye script… I’m glad everything worked out the way it did. Goldeneye starring Pierce Brosnan is one of my favorites. But it does go to show you that the alternate Bond universe is just as interesting as reality.