Will Blofeld return to the 007 film series?

"Good to see you again, Mr. Bond." (Graphic by Paul Baack.)

“Good to see you again, Mr. Bond.”
(Graphic by Paul Baack.)

Now that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Broccoli family have acquired the 007 film rights held by the estate and family of Kevin McClory, the obvious question is whether Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond’s arch-enemy, will return to the film series.

The brief announcement on Nov. 15 didn’t provide details of the settlement. But it closed a half-century saga. It began with an ill-fated James Bond movie project in the 1950s in which 007 author Ian Fleming participated. When the project fell apart, Fleming based his Thunderball novel on screenplays written for the never-made movie.

A legal fight ensued. Under a settlement, Kevin McClory held the screen rights. As a result, he had the leverage to negotiate a deal with 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman for a co-production of Thunderball. Fleming’s novel had introduced Blofeld and his SPECTRE organization (the SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion). Broccoli and Saltzman already had inserted SPECTRE into their adaptations of Dr. No and From Russia With Love, Fleming novels that hadn’t included SPECTRE.

Ten years after Thunderball, McClory began efforts to do his own Bond movies based on his Thunderball rights. As a result, the Eon Productions series steered clear of Blofeld and SPECTRE.

Barbara Broccoli, daughter of Albert R. Broccoli and current co-boss of Eon Productions, previously said Blofeld was past his due date. For example there was A CRAVEONLINE INTERVIEW where this exchange occurred:

Barbara Broccoli: I mean, we’ve talked about Blofeld over the years. The thing is Blofeld was fantastic for the time but I think it’s about creating characters that are, villains that are more appropriate for the contemporary world. It’s more exciting for us to create somebody new.

Some fans cite comments like this one and figure there’s no way Blofeld will return. However, that’s also the same interview where Broccoli denied writer John Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25, the next two movies in the series. (“That was a Hollywood announcement, not from us if you notice.”) A few days after the interview was published, MGM confirmed on an investor call that Logan had, indeed, been hired to script the films. When it comes to previous statements by Bond producers, caveat emptor applies.

As reader Mark Henderson pointed out in a response to a previous post, “The realism of the last three movies, and the legacy of Austin Powers, all but preclude the Nerhu jacket and white cat fetish.” But that garb and pet were creations of the early Bond filmmakers. There’s nothing to preclude a darker, more realistic Blofeld.

In From Russia With Love and Thunderball (with Anthony Dawson providing the body and Eric Pohlman providing the voice), Blofeld wore a plain business suit. The character didn’t get the Nehru jacket until 1967’s You Only Live Twice.

Only Ms. Broccoli, her half-brother Michael G. Wilson and their associates know whether Blofeld, and SPECTRE, will only live twice. But the McClory settlement certainly makes it possible. The real question is whether Broccoli and Wilson want do exercise that option.

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4 Responses

  1. Max Von Sydow also played Blofeld in Kevin McClory and Sean Connery’s remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again. He also wore a business suit, wing tips and a bowtie, but he did have his lap cat. He played a great Blofeld!

  2. This news makes me think that we will indeed see a reinvented Blofeld in Bond 24/25. After Skyfall, it seems this is the next logical place to go. I think they might have cleaned all this up precisely because they want to do Blofeld.

  3. EON Productions don’t need the rights to McClory’s estate to portray Blofeld in a Bond movie. They certainly didn’t need it for “YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE”, “ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE” and “DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER”.

    And why do we need Blofeld back anyway? Are they planning to remake some of Fleming’s novels?

  4. McClory, as part of the Thunderball deal, agreed not to do any Bond movies for 10 years. When the 10 years was up, he started new efforts. It was also at that time he asserted he had the rights to Blofeld, SPECTRE, etc. The Spy Who Loved Me originally was to feature SPECTRE, but that was eliminated before filming began. In For Your Eyes Only, the sort-of Blofeld originally commented it was “the 10th anniversary of last encounter.” That line got taken out at the last minute, but it was still in the Marvel comic book adaptation.

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