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'The Court will Live and Let Die' in $8.7M James Bond class action lawsuit

Contributed by
Jul 17, 2018

James Bond fans, as you may be able to tell by the intense speculation surrounding Bond 25, aren’t exactly a mellow lot. They want their secret agent exactly as they remember him, and when a 50th-anniversary DVD box set failed to live up to some of their exacting scrutiny, MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment got taken to court. And now 007 fans can truly claim to own a box set of “All the Bond films gathered together for the first time.”

That’s the packaging quote, according to The Hollywood Reporter, that the class action lawsuit filed by Mary Johnson cites as misleading, and in violation of Washington's Consumer Protection Act. What’s misleading about it is that the set doesn’t actually include every film that the agent appeared in, namely the ‘60s Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again.

The former, a spy-comedy, starred David Niven -- who “was James Bond creator Ian Fleming's first choice to play James Bond in the James Bond movies,” according to the complaint -- while the latter adapted Fleming's Thunderball (again), and was the rare Bond film not produced by Eon Productions. Neither film appeared in the box set, and neither was associated with MGM, making them questionable for the popular canon.

So MGM argued that there should be no confusion: “[N]o reasonable purchaser would expect that a box set would contain films that are not included on the list of titles clearly printed on its packaging.” Sure. But U.S. District Court judge Ricardo Martinez certainly had a few (fun-poking) things to say about it in his decision.

"At this time, the Court will Live and Let Die," he wrote. "The Court finds the questions of how a reasonable person would interpret 'all' and 'every' and what qualifies as a James Bond film remain for the trier of fact to decide. These terms are not unequivocally puffery as a matter of law." That means some of these claims are legally legit, which led to the parties at hand coming to a settlement. If you’re in the class action and file your claim, you’ll get digital copies of the $13.99 Never Say Never Again and the $14.99 Casino Royale.

That adds up, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs, to about $8.7M -- if everyone who could claim the two movies does. And don’t worry, the packaging will be changed so Bond fans will have merchandising decorum as they insist on the proper way of preparing a martini.