The realm of Hollywood franchises is rife with alternate histories, offering countless tales of missed opportunities and unexplored possibilities. The James Bond series stands out among these narratives, boasting a rich tapestry of what-ifs. Believe it or not, there was a time when fans of both Quentin Tarantino and James Bond fans were once abuzz with excitement over the possibility of the acclaimed Pulp Fiction filmmaker stepping into the 007 universe. But Tarantino recently revealed his scrapped plans for taking over the agent with a license to kill, a particular take on Flemings's novel Casino Royale (which just celebrated its 70th anniversary), and honestly, I’m suffering from severe FOMO.
In a recent interview with Deadline, the Jackie Brown movie maker disclosed the behind-the-scenes details of his failed attempt to bring Casino Royale to life in his distinctive style. He explained that during his time working with Miramax, he had reached out to the Ian Fleming estate with his pitch for what to do with the series. But as it turned out, Eon, the production company behind the Bond franchise, had made a comprehensive deal to secure the movie rights to all of Fleming's works making Tarantino’s vision doomed from the start. Now I'm left thinking about what could have been. He told the publication:
That's what I wanted to do after Pulp Fiction was do my version of Casino Royale, and it would've taken place in the '60s and wasn't about a series of Bond movies. We would have cast an actor and be one and done. So I thought we could do this. But then it turned out that the Broccolis three years earlier figured out somebody was going to try to do what I did. And so what they did is they just made a blanket deal with the Fleming estate and said that: 'We have the movie rights to everything he's ever written. We're going to just give you a bunch of money. This is for every single thing he's ever written. If anybody wants to make a movie out of it, they got to come to us.
Just imagine for a moment—an R-rated, period-piece Bond film directed by none other than Tarantino. It would have been a bold departure from the usual formula that defines the James Bond series. However, that change of pace could have been a breath of fresh air. In a world where Burt Reynolds almost took on the role of England's iconic super spy and Sean Connery had his own unrealized Bond project, perhaps the idea isn't as far-fetched as it seems. It's worth noting that Daniel Craig's first outing as Bond in the 2006 film Casino Royale is widely regarded as one of the best action films of all time and one of the best Bond films to date. When ranking the Craig Bond films, it undoubtedly secures a top spot.
Although the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director never had a sit-down meeting with Barbara Broccoli, the head of Eon Productions, he knew that the Broccolis held a strong stance against his involvement. Tarantino continued:
I had people who knew them and everything. I was always told very flattering versions of like, 'Look, we love Quentin, but we make a certain kind of movie, and unless we fuck it up, we make a billion dollars every time we make that type of movie, OK? We don’t want him to do it. Doesn’t matter that it will still do good. It could fuck up our billion-dollar thing.'
Quentin Tarantino's future in the James Bond franchise may not be in the cards, as he firmly stated that retirement is on the horizon for him. His forthcoming film, The Movie Critic, is set to be his final motion picture. While fans may have mixed emotions about this news, both elated and saddened by the prospect of his career coming to a close, there is plenty to look forward to in the realm of upcoming 2023 movie releases as we eagerly await Tarantino's swan song. Although we may long for his unique take on 007, it appears that his version of the iconic spy will forever remain in the realm of what-ifs and missed opportunities.