On Jan. 1, 2015, James Bond entered the public domain — in Canada. Since the character’s creator, Ian Fleming, passed away in 1964, Canada’s enforcement of the Berne Convention means that James Bond is now in the public domain in that country, prompting the Canadian cult filmmaker duo of director Lee Demarbre and writer Ian Driscoll (whose credits include the colorfully titled “Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter” and “Harry Knuckles and the Pearl Necklace”) to embark on a remake of “For Your Eyes Only,” a 1960 short story that was adapted into a 1981 film starring Roger Moore.
“James Bond comes to Ottawa — that happened in the books many times,” Demarbre told CBC Radio of why “For Your Eyes Only” was chosen for their project. “Ottawa’s cool in books. It just hasn’t been cool in movies yet.”
“There’s a really vivid depiction of Ottawa in the book,” Driscoll added. “I thought it would be awesome to bring that to screen, too bad I’ll never get a chance to write a James Bond movie. Then the copyright expired, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I have a chance to write a James Bond movie.'”
The film is still in its very earliest stages, with Demarbre admitting to CBC that it’s been difficult to find funding due to the film not being able to be shown in the United States due to copyright law. Yet they’re optimistic that other markets — specifically China — may be interested. Either way, they’re looking for a smaller-scale approach than Eon Productions’ blockbuster James Bond films, the latest of which, the recently released “Spectre,” has made more than $750 million worldwide.
“I don’t expect to supplant the giant blockbuster James Bond, but I think there’s room in the world for an arthouse James Bond, to live alongside that, to give a different interpretation of the characters,” Driscoll said.
Despite some inherent obstacles, Demarbe and Driscoll are optimistic — they’re loosely planning four Canadian Bond films, would like a Black James Bond by their fourth, and have names Ryan Reynolds (title role) Michael Ironside (as the villain) and Jessica Paré in mind for their ideal cast.
If you’re living stateside, don’t expect to make your James Bond film any time soon — in the United States and the European Union, it’s a minimum of 70 years after an author dies before his or her work enters the public domain.
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