Bond 50th Boxset Lawsuit Gets Serious

A lawsuit against MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment over the James Bond franchise is moving forward reports THR Esq.

U.S. District Court judge Ricardo Martinez has ruled that Mary Johnson has a right to sue MGM over the Bond 50th Anniversary disc set for its lack of inclusion of the two films that aren’t a part of the official franchise – namely 1967’s “Casino Royale” and 1983’s “Never Say Never Again”.

Released in September 2012, the set was sold on the pitch that it would contain “all the Bond films gathered together for the first time” and even left an empty slot for fans to slip in their disc of “Skyfall” when it arrived a few months later.

However, the box only came with the twenty-two films that were a part of the official Bond canon and available on home video at the time. The 1960s “Casino Royale” was never an official part of the series, and “Never Say Never Again” was effectively a “Thunderball” remake at a rival studio with complicated rights issues all its own.

However, because the packaging boasted the words ‘every’ and ‘all’, the judge concluded that it is reasonable for those who purchased the box set to feel that would have included the two movies that were not there:

“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. Defendants fail to adequately address Plaintiff’s argument as to the omission of Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again or the need for a disclaimer.

Even if a reasonable consumer examines the box-sets’ entire packaging, they would only know which films are included. That consumer would not know whether the box-set includes ‘all’ James Bond films or which films are excluded. This could constitute a deceptive act under the WCPA. The Court finds Plaintiff has adequately pled a claim for relief under the WCPA…

From the Defendant’s’ perspective, this claim will have to Die Another Day…At this time, the Court will Live and Let Die.”

MGM, which has the home video rights to both films and has released them on Blu-ray in past years, has several arguments in its favour. For one Johnson purchased the box set on Amazon (ie. a second party), thus there isn’t a direct contractual relationship. Whatever happens now though, this lawsuit just got more serious and expensive.