20. “While You Were Away, The World Changed.” “Not For Me!”
Production on the 20th Bond film was deliberately delayed in order to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the franchise.
However, the world was changing rapidly around the writing of the script. On the one hand, Mike Myers’s Austin Powers trilogy (1997-2002) exploited the ludicrous aspects of the Bond films, whilst the terrorist atrocities of 11th September 2001 heralded a grittier, darker, and overall more shocking take on the spy genre, represented by the Jason Bourne franchise (currently 2002-2016).
This did not sit well with the producers’ intention to recall such classic larger than life adventures as You Only Live Twice (1967). Therefore, Die Another Day was littered with references to terrorism and how the world was changing around Bond alongside the more fantastic elements.
Ultimately, Die Another Day saw some drastic tonal shifts in the course of one film. Director Lee Tamahori and producers, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson later acknowledged that they had gravely misjudged audiences’ expectations, whilst Pierce Brosnan named it as his least favourite of his Double-0 Seven movies.
It was Brosnan who suggested that the next Bond adventure should return to the character’s darker roots. Whilst the studio accepted this, it moved on without him with a younger actor in the lead role as it had secured the film rights to Ian Fleming’s 1953 Bond novel, Casino Royale.