MGM Studios and long-time James Bond producer Danjaq have filed a lawsuit against NBCUniversal over an upcoming movie called Section 6. As previously reported, Section 6 is about the early days of MI6, the British intelligence agency most famous abroad for employing the globe-hopping, gadget-wielding, secondary character-bedding secret agent James Bond. The lawsuit caps several months of back-and-forth chatter between MGM, which owns the rights to the James Bond character, and NBCUniversal, which bought the script for Section 6. When MGM first learned about the movie’s existence, it sent a letter to NBCUniversal warning against developing the script any further. According to MGM’s complaint, NBCUniversal wrote back that it had “no intention” of violating anyone’s copyrights. MGM backed off until, a couple of months later, NBCUniversal announced that it had hired Attack The Block director Joe Cornish to helm the movie. MGM filed its lawsuit late last week, alleging that it’s a blatant James Bond ripoff:
“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… Universal and Berg have copied in detail nearly every aspect of the characters, plots, dialogue, themes. setting, mood and other key elements of the copyrighted James Bond literary works and motion pictures.”
MGM is asking for an order preventing NBCUniversal from moving forward with the movie.
This isn’t the first time MGM and Danjaq have resorted to litigation to protect the James Bond franchise. In 1995, they won a suit against Honda, after the car company aired a commercial that “evoked” James Bond—even though the agent’s name was never used. It remains to be seen whether this current lawsuit will result in a court ruling, a backroom settlement, or a James Bond knock-off that will underwhelm audiences sometime around Christmas 2015.