Released in 1995, Goldeneye proved to be a key entry in the James Bond series. Among the various reasons for its importance, not least was ensuring 007’s survival.
The film heralded many changes for the James Bond series. First of all Goldeneye introduced a new James Bond in the shape of Pierce Brosnan. It also introduced a female M inspired by the female boss of MI5. It was the first James Bond movie to be co-produced by Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, with Cubby Broccoli on the sidelines due to poor health.
Most importantly though, it ensured the James Bond series lived on and, as the first Bond film in six years, introduced a new generation of cinemagoers to the world of 007. Twenty years on, with the Bond films in perhaps the best shape they’ve been since the 1960s, that point is hard to overstate.
Originally planned to shoot in 1990 with Timothy Dalton in the lead, production was suspended when MGM merged with Pathé. Cubby Broccoli learnt the merger was to be financed by selling broadcasting rights to MGM’s library. That included the Bond films, which Broccoli regarded as going cheap.
Claiming the sale was in violation of MGM’s 1962 distribution agreement with Danjaq, Broccoli brought in his lawyers. With writs flying between the two parties it was inevitable the seventeenth film in the series was put on the back burner.
The dispute was finally settled by 1993, but it was far from clear that the Bond films had a future. Timothy Dalton echoed this sentiment following the release of Licence To Kill (1989), telling one interviewer at the time, “My feeling is this will be… the end of the whole lot.”
Just months after Licence To Kill the Berlin Wall had come down, heralding the end of the Cold War. Without the standoff between the East and West, what place did Bond have in the world anyway?
The film did go back into pre-production though, with a new screenplay delivered by Michael France in early 1994. However, despite a three movie contract, Dalton decided to retire from the role. Too much time had passed and he no longer wanted to continue.
Instead the producers turned to Pierce Brosnan as the new Bond. He had originally been cast in the role in 1986 after TV show Remington Steele was cancelled by NBC. However, the show was revived because of the publicity surrounding Brosnan’s expected announcement as 007. That forced him to withdraw from the role just as he was about to be officially introduced as the new James Bond actor. With Goldeneye though his time had finally come, and he was hugely popular as 007 throughout his four films.
Today Pierce Brosnan’s films are often looked down upon and were certainly hampered by poor scripts. But there is no doubt Goldeneye and the Brosnan era revived the series.
They may have been lacking something for many long-term Bond fans, such as myself, but if nothing else they kept the series going. Goldeneye and three film that followed opened the door for Casino Royale and the reboot with Daniel Craig a decade later.