After half a century of legal wrangling and bad blood, it was announced yesterday that the rights to Thunderball, which were in the hands of the relatives of Kevin McClory since his death in 2006, will revert to MGM and Danjaq. The announcement was made in a press release:
Los Angeles, CA (November 15, 2013) – Danjaq, LLC, the producer of the James Bond films, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the longtime distributor of the Bond films, along with the estate and family of the late Kevin McClory, announced today that Danjaq and MGM have acquired all of the estate’s and family’s rights and interests relating to James Bond, thus bringing to an amicable conclusion the legal and business disputes that have arisen periodically for over 50 years.
McClory was awarded the rights following a court case in which he alleged Ian Fleming’s novel Thunderball plagiarised the film scripts that he and Jack Whittingham had worked on, allowing him to remake Thunderball as Never Say Never Again in 1983. He also periodically threatened to start a rival Bond series, none of which ever came to anything.
With the McClory rights in the hands of the official series, all rights are now tied up. Previously Casino Royale came into their hands a little over a decade ago, as rights were sold separately by Ian Fleming.