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James Bond is easily one of the most iconic characters in the history of Hollywood. The average person, whether they’re a fan or not, knows his code name, his favorite drink, his catch phrases and his basic personality. In short, he’s one of the most profitable assets MGM has, and apparently, executives will go to great lengths to protect their hold on the secret agent, even if it means starting a legal war with a giant company with plenty of resources to fight back.
As we speak, Universal is currently prepping plans for an MI6 spy thriller called Section 6. Attack The Block’s Joe Cornish is on board to direct and Jack O’Connell from 300: Rise Of An Empire is scheduled to play the lead, but if MGM has its way, the movie will never begin production or see the light of day. Why? Because the powers that be think it’s nothing more than a cheap, illegal knockoff of James Bond.
MGM and Universal have reportedly been going back-and-forth about this project for a few months. Once it became clear Universal had no intentions on backing down, MGM, in conjunction with the typical James Bond producers, officially filed a lawsuit. Variety was able to obtain a copy of it, and not surprisingly, it’s pretty aggressive.
Here’s an excerpt…
"This lawsuit concerns a motion picture project, in active development, featuring a daring, tuxedo-clad British secret agent, employed by ‘His Majesty’s Secret Service,’ with a ‘license to kill,’ and a 00 (double-O) secret agent number on a mission to save England from the diabolical plot of a megalomanical villain. Most moviegoers would assume from that description alone that this lawsuit concerns the next James Bond picture. It does not. This lawsuit is instead about a James Bond knockoff that defendant Universal is readying for production."
That sounds like a pretty vicious indictment, but it’s important to remember we’re only hearing from one side right now. Lots of characters work for the government and are allowed to kill in the line of duty. We need to know whether they’re using the same frames of reference and the same phrases or whether those loose plot points are being manipulated to seem like they exactly correspond with the James Bond franchise.
Thus far, Universal has refused to turn over a copy of the script from Section 6. If this lawsuit continues, it’s very likely that will be forcibly entered into evidence. Exactly what it will show is unclear, but either way, it would be a bit of a surprise if Universal fights this too aggressively. It takes millions of dollars to go to court for something like this, and I’m not sure the monetary upside for a film about the history of MI6 without a huge name to topline is that high.
We’ll keep you updated.