So the familar story goes like this: In 1977 Cubby Broccoli planned to follow up his first solo James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, with For Your Eyes Only (so said the “James Bond Will Return” credit at the end of the film). But when Star Wars proved to be a monster hit in the summer of ’77, Cubby jumped on the Star Wars bandwagon and announced that Moonraker would be the next James Bond film. This has prompted Bond fans and Bond historians to criticize Cubby and Moonraker with what has become the dogmatic “Bond films should lead, not follow.”
But now this bit of Bond history may need to be rewritten.
While doing research at the Motion Picture Academy Library, I found a very interesting newspaper clipping dated January 12, 1976. It was the official announcement of Cubby’s takeover of the Bond production empire from Harry Saltzman (“Broccoli to Be the Sole Bond Film Producer”). In the article Cubby lays out his future plans for 007. Interestingly, he planned to go back to one film per year…and listen to this last paragraph:
The Spy Who Loved Me will be followed by the production of Moonraker in 1977, and For Your Eyes Only in 1978.
Here, a full year before Star Wars was released, we have Cubby announcing Moonraker as Bond #11!
I find it more likely that Cubby moved For Your Eyes Only into Moonraker‘s planned production spot when the U.S. space program delayed the launch of the first space shuttle. But when Star Wars became a mega hit, Cubby went with his original plan and made his space-themed Bond film, even though the first shuttle launch was still years away (the space shuttle “Columbia” launched on April 12, 1981, two months before to the release of For Your Eyes Only).
Sure, Moonraker is definitely influenced by Star Wars (laser guns, space battles, etc.), but in light of this article, I don’t think we can say that Moonraker was a reaction to Star Wars. Cubby Broccoli was looking toward the stars before anyone had ever heard of Luke Skywalker.
Bond was leading…not following.
Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, and Director Lewis Gilbert on location in Paris during the production of MOONRAKER.