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Battle of the Bonds: When Roger Moore and Sean Connery Went Head to Head at the Box Office

Image Credit: MGM/Allan Warren
James Bond is one of the most recognisable names on the planet, with the fictional spy serving as the figurehead of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. Obsessed over for more than 50 years, the Bond film series ages like a fine wine and is still just as appealing to audiences today as it was over half a century ago.

There have been 26 James Bond films made (the first one being Dr No, released in 1962).  But did you know that one of these movies – Never Say Never Again – was an unofficial one? Never Say Never Again was made in a different studio by a different production company. It had different writers and different distributors. But they did get Sean Connery to play Bond. It was his first appearance as James Bond in 12 years, and his last ever one.

Image Credit: MGM via Cinema.de
Casino Royale (1967) was another unofficial Bond movie but, unlike Never Say Never Again, it was a spoof
The film was the second film adaptation of Thunderball and was released in 1983, the same year as the official Bond movie, Octopussy, in which Roger Moore played Bond.

So who won in the Octopussy v Never Say Never Again, Roger Moore v Sean Connery battle of the Bonds?



Well Octopussy and Roger Moore won hands down at the box office. But Never Say Never Again did well, opening to acclaimed reviews from the critics and grossing over $160 million at the box office on a budget of $36 million (Octopussy grossed $183.7 million). Many argue that it is the better of the two Bond films, with Rotten Tomatoes’ approved critics scoring Never Say Never Again at a respectable 64% compared to a score of just 42% for Octopussy.

Image Credit: MGM via IMDb
Roger Moore's Bond disguised as a clown in Octopussy
But perhaps more importantly, Never Say Never Again won in the courts. As you can imagine, the trustees of the official Bond franchise were not too pleased at this rival production and attempted, unsuccessfully, to block the film in the High Court.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing into the sunset with a martini in hand for the Never Say Never Again clan. Production was troubled. It was plagued with legal issues and Sean Connery himself had to take on many of the production duties. There were public disagreements between director Irvin Kershner and producer Jack Schwartzman and the costs went spiralling over budget, with Schwartzman having to complete production out of his own pocket. Many of the film’s sequences had to be cut for legal reasons. There was no opening gun barrel sequence and there was no James Bond theme tune.

Image Credit: MGM via IMDb
The iconic gun barrel sequence could not be included in Never Say Never Again for legal reasons
We guess the real winner though was the James Bond movie fan. Two blockbuster Bond films in one year? Thank you very much!

It is probably fair to say that the Bond vs Bond battle of 1983 was more like a relegation battle than a League title winning decider. Looking back now, neither Octopussy nor Never Say Never Again have passed the tests of time, and few would rank either as one of their favourite James Bond movies.

Never Say Never Again, like an exiled pretender to the throne, continues to exist outside of the official Bond film lineage, even though MGM purchased the rights to the motion picture from Schwartzman in 1997.

Perhaps one day they will make a film of the 1983 Battle of the Bonds. If so, we can only hope that the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

Image Credit: MGM
Sean Connery winking at the audience in his final ever appearance as James Bond
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Battle of the Bonds: When Roger Moore and Sean Connery Went Head to Head at the Box Office Battle of the Bonds: When Roger Moore and Sean Connery Went Head to Head at the Box Office Reviewed by Christopher Christou on February 09, 2018 Rating: 5

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