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In what will surely be the most entertaining class-action lawsuit filed this year, MGM Studios and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment must contend with a James Bond completist upset with the DVD box set she purchased.
In Washington, Mary Johnson is suing on behalf of herself and others similarly situated who bought the box set upon packaging that stated “All the Bond films gathered together for the first time” only to be disappointed by the absence of Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
Those two films, of course, have a special place in Bond lore.
Casino Royale, the original one, was actually a spoof starring, among others, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and Orson Welles. It was a Columbia Pictures film, not a 007 flick produced by either Eon Productions or MGM.
The story of Never Say Never Again is even more intricate, the result of a thorny rights dispute between MGM and Danjaq LLC on one side and the estate of Kevin McClory on the other.
McClory, a screenwriter who worked with Bond author Ian Fleming in creating Thunderball, which then became a Fleming novel, later claimed co-authorship and the creation of characters and elements. McClory then wanted to make his own Bond films, and in 1983, a London court allowed him to do so. So as Octopussy, starring Roger Moore came out, McClory’s company was able to release Never Say Never Again, which in a twist, starred Sean Connery reprising the role that made him famous.
In 2013, the long fight over Bond rights was settled, but not in time for the 50th anniversary DVD box set titled Bond 50, Celebrating Five Decades of Bond 007, which Johnson purchased for $106.44.
According to Johnson’s complaint, removed to federal court on Friday, the Bond franchise has generated close to $3 billion in sales from home entertainment, but her lawyers have identified an alleged violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act and a claimed breach of warranties.
Maybe analogous to the recent class action against Wise for allegedly underfilling potato chip bags, Johnson says she “did not receive the product she was led to believe she purchased. The representations that Defendants make on the James Bond sets are false, mislead consumers (and Plaintiff in particular), and constitute unfair and deceptive business practices in violation of applicable law.”
It’s not just that the box set is missing two films.
“Despite representing that the Sets contain EVERY charismatic star, David Niven, the ‘charismatic star’ of Casino Royale is missing from the Sets,” states the complaint. “David Niven was James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s first choice to play James Bond in the James Bond movies.”
MGM now owns distribution rights to Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again, according to the complaint.
Attorney Alexander Kleinberg at Eisenhower Carlson is handling the proposed class which demands actual damages, punitive damages and more. John Devlin is representing the defendants.
In a statement to THR, MGM says, “The James Bond DVD and Blu-ray collections, which clearly list the included films, have been enjoyed by millions of satisfied consumers around the world. We intend to vigorously defend against these frivolous claims.”
From the court papers, here’s a picture of the box set’s promotion:
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