1. In 1985, the Films Act was passed in the United Kingdom, removing the Eady Levy (a tax on box office receipts, intended to support the British film industry and named after Sir Wilfred Eady), resulting in foreign artists being taxed more heavily. Because of the associated rising costs to Eon Productions the decision was made for no part of Licence to Kill to be filmed in the UK, making it the first Bond film not to do so. Pinewood Studios, used in every previous Bond film, housed only the post-production and sound re-recording.
2. Filming locations around the globe were sought out for Bond 16. The producers decided that for the primary location they wanted a place where the series had not yet visited. An invitation was given to EON by the Chinese government, and after a scouting visit it appeared as if it would be the location of choice.
Writers Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum planned a chase sequence along the Great Wall, as well as a fight scene amongst the Terracotta Army. Wilson also wrote two plot outlines about a drug lord in the Golden Triangle. However, the Chinese government began to make some suggestion that they may require veto over the script, and whilst this issue was still in negotiation the film The Last Emperor was released. Producer Albert R. Broccoli felt that that 1987 film had removed some of the novelty of filming in China, and decided upon using a tropical location instead.
3. Starting almost anew, Wilson and Maibaum together mapped out what would become Licence to Kill, but at this time went under the title Licence Revoked, it would remain that for the majority of the production.
Before the pair could develop the script properly the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike and Maibaum was unable to continue writing, leaving Wilson to finish the script on his own.
Although both the main plot and title of Licence to Kill owe nothing to any of the Ian Fleming James Bond (indeed, Licence To Kill is the first film in the Bond series not to use a title of a Fleming novel), Wilson took inspiration from several elements from the books for his storyline, including a number of aspects of the short story "The Hildebrand Rarity", such as the character Milton Krest. The novel Live and Let Die provided the material surrounding Felix Leiter's mauling by a shark, whilst the film version of the book provided the close similarity between the main villain, Mr. Big, and Licence to Kill's main villain Franz Sanchez
4. The screenplay was not ready by the time casting had begun, and so when Carey Lowell came in to audition for the part of Pam Bouvier she read lines from A View to a Kill.
Robert Davi had already read Casino Royale in preparation for Sanchez. Familiar with Le Chiffre he read that characters lines for his audition.
Davi would also later help out with the casting of Sanchez's mistress Lupe Lamora, by playing James Bond in the audition. Talisa Soto was picked from twelve potential candidates because Davi expressed he "would kill for her"
5. David Hedison returned to play Felix Leiter, sixteen years after playing the same agent in Live and Let Die. Hedison did not expect to return to the role, saying
"I was sure that [Live and Let Die] would be my first – and last."Indeed, director John Glen was reluctant to cast the 61-year-old actor, since the role even had a scene that would require him to parachute, but Hedison was already quite adapt with the practice.
With this movie Hedison became the first actor to play Leiter twice (with only Jeffrey Wright matching that with appearances as Leiter in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace).
6. With only one movie credit to his name at the time (as Duke the Dog-Faced Boy in 1988's Big Top Pee Wee), future leading man and character actor Benicio del Toro was chosen to play Sanchez's henchman, Dario for being "laid back while menacing in a quirky sort of way", according to director John Glen.
7. The original title, Licence Revoked, which made sense in line with the plot, was only changed during post-production when during American test screenings it became apparent that most people associated the phrase 'Licence Revoked' with the withdrawal of a driving licence.
Concept artworks by Robert "Bob" Peak had already been produced for the marketing campaign (above and below), but MGM decided not to use them. Prompting a delay in promotion for Bond 16 and limited awareness of it's impending release.
8. Initially Vic Flick, who had played lead guitar on Monty Norman's original 007 theme, and Eric Clapton were asked to write and perform the theme song to Licence to Kill and they produced a theme to match Dalton's gritty performance, but the producers turned it down and instead Gladys Knight's song and performance was chosen.
The song (one of the longest to ever be used in a Bond film) was based on the "horn line" from Goldfinger, seen as an homage to the film of the same name, which required royalty payments to the original writers.
9. Film ratings organisations had objections to the excessive and realistic violence in Licence To Kill, with both the Motion Picture Association of America and the British Board of Film Classification requesting content adaptations, with the BBFC in particular demanding the cut of 36 seconds of film. The 2006 Ultimate Edition DVD of Licence to Kill marked the first release of the film without cuts.
The trimmed-for-violence Licence to Kill premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on 13th June 1989. Despite the cuts it became the first Bond film to carry a 15 certificate. It went on to gross a total of £7.5 million (after inflation, £17 million in 2017 pounds) in the United Kingdom, making it the seventh most successful film of the year, despite the 15 certificate which cut down audience numbers.
However, the US cinema returns were just $34.6 million, making Licence to Kill the least financially successful James Bond film in the US, when accounting for inflation.
10. Before Licence To Kill was even released plans were underway for Bond 17. Originally scheduled for a mid-1991 release, it would've seen Timothy Dalton return in a script that is rumoured to have been called The Property Of A Lady. A poster for the then-upcoming movie was even featured on the Carlton Hotel during the 1990 Cannes Film Festival.
Dalton would declare in a 2010 interview that the script was ready and "we were talking directors" before the project entered development hell when legal wrangling over control of the series and the James Bond character began, resulting in, what would be a six-year-long delay for the Bond series.
And that's where we'll pick things up next time.
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