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Goodby Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square

“Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square”
2002 marked the 40th Anniversary of James Bond in the cinema, and Pierce Brosnan's fourth 007 outing was celebrated in style with a lavish premiere held at London's Royal Albert Hall on Monday November 18th. Die Another Day was also chosen as the Royal Film Performance, an event that has been held annually since 1946 in aid of the Film & Television Charity (formerly the Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund). The event is used to showcase a major film premiere and is attended by members of the British Royal Family. Proceeds from the event enable the charity to offer financial support to people associated with the screen industries. The Die Another Day premiere was attended by Her Majesty The Queen (her first James Bond premiere since You Only Live Twice in 1967) and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (his first Bond premiere since Moonraker). The exterior of the historic Royal Albert Hall was decorated with 54 giant icicles which surrounded the building, with the interior transformed into a replica of the ‘Ice Palace’ seen in the film.

Die Another Day World Charity Premiere Royal Albert Hall

EON Productions also invited many other significant alumni who had contributed to the James Bond films over the past 40 years. Guests included three former James Bond's - George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton, alongside current 007 Pierce Brosnan and leading lady Halle Berry. Other former leading ladies also attending were Lois Chiles (Moonraker), Shirley Eaton (Goldfinger), Maryam d'Abo (The Living Daylights), Maud Adams (The Man With The Golden Gun & Octopussy). Other co-stars from Roger Moore's tenure as 007 included Vijay Amritraj (Octopussy) and Fiona Fullerton (A View To A Kill). Die Another Day's Toby Stephens, Michael Gorevoy, Rosamund Pike and Rick Yune were joined by former villains Richard Kiel (The Spy Who Loved Me & Moonraker), Julian Glover (For Your Eyes Only), and Burt Kwouk (Goldfinger, Casino Royale (1967) and You Only Live Twice). John Cleese (newly promoted to the role of Q after the death of Desmond Llewelyn), Judi Dench, Colin Salmon and Samantha Bond provided links to Pierce Brosnan's tenure as 007; whilst Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever & Moonraker), Monty Norman (composer of ‘The James Bond Theme’), George Martin (Live And Let Die soundtrack composer) and John Barry (eleven-time James Bond composer) represented musical links to four decades of the James Bond legacy. Die Another Day's main title singer Madonna also attended with her then husband, film director Guy Ritchie.

Three Bonds at the Die Another Day Royal World Charity premiere - George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton & Roger Moore

Director Lee Tamahori was also presented to Her Majesty The Queen, alongside Die Another Day co-producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, along with their mother Dana (widow of original James Bond film co-producer Albert R. Broccoli).

Lois Chiles, Shirley Eaton, Burt Kwouk, Richard Kiel, Judi Dench and Shirley Bassey at the Die Another Day Premiere

In addition to the premiere at the Royal Albert Hall there was also a special preview screening held simultaneously at the UCI Empire Cinema in Leicester Square, followed by several regional charity premieres and after show parties on Tuesday November 19, 2002. Die Another Day had regional premieres at the ODEON cinemas in Newcastle and Birmingham, and Warner Village cinema in Plymouth.

Die Another Day Empire Leicester Square

ABOVE: (left) The UCI Empire Cinema, Leicester Square also held a special preview screening on the same evening as the Royal Film Performance, with the cinema displaying the version of the artwork favoured in the UK campaign. (centre & right) Die Another Day then had its exclusive West End presentation at the UCI Empire cinema for thirteen weeks. 

Die Another Day then opened at the ODEON Marble Arch on Friday November 22, 2002, where it played for eight weeks. Despite some less than positive reviews Die Another Day quickly became the most successful James Bond film to date (when not adjusted for inflation), taking £1.4 million in the UK in its opening weekend. Die Another Day played at the Empire Leicester Square (then part of the UCI chain of cinemas, and now part of the Cineworld group) for thirteen-weeks from Tuesday November 19, 2002. For the first seven weeks Die Another Day was playing simultaneously in the main 1,330-seat screen one, and smaller 349-seat screen two - which gave the cinema seven separate performances each day. From Wednesday January 8, 2003 Die Another Day played only in screen two, and then the 77-seat screen three at the end of its run.

Die Another Day was the first James Bond film since Thunderball not to screen at the ODEON Leicester Square during its premiere engagement in London, although it did later play at the adjoining five-screen ODEON Mezzanine complex for nine-weeks from Friday January 31, 2003.

Die Another Day newspaper advert/Three Bond's at BAFTA 2002

James Bond's 40th Anniversary was also celebrated in London with a BAFTA Tribute hosted by Michael Parkinson on Sunday November 17th (the day before the Die Another Day premiere), which was later screened on BBC1 on Saturday December 28, 2002. The star-studded occasion was held in the presence of four incarnations of Ian Fleming's debonair spy - Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and George Lazenby who each discussed their own interpretations of the role, with Sean Connery adding his thoughts in a pre-recorded interview. Halle Berry, who played American agent Jinx in Die Another Day, talked about the re-creation of the iconic beach scene featuring Ursula Andress from the first James Bond film Dr. No in 1962.

Die Another Day display Harrods 2002

Christmas 2002 became the most profitable holiday release period for any James Bond film since the record-breaking debut of Thunderball in 1965. Londoner's could also see a spectacular tribute to the official James Bond films in special film-themed window displays showcased at the world-famous Harrods store in Knightsbridge. The window displays featured vehicles, costumes and props from 40 years of James Bond films, along with other expensive items then on sale at the prestigious Knightsbridge store. Die Another Day then made its DVD debut in June 2003, in a two-disc special edition with many additional features that were not carried over to later releases.

You Only Live Twice/The Living Daylights display Harrods 2002

Despite the enormous worldwide success of Die Another Day, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were aware of the largely negative reviews, and criticism of the story and its more over-the-top elements, particularly the poorly executed computer-generated kite-surfing sequence. In 1999 EON Productions had finally acquired the rights to film Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel CASINO ROYALE. Although Pierce Brosnan's four James Bond films had grossed over one-billion dollars at the box-office, and he had become arguably the most publicly popular actor to inhabit the 007 role since Sean Connery, EON did not feel they could do justice to Ian Fleming's origin novel with their current star. In 2003 EA Games released Everything Or Nothing, a computer videogame which used the likeness and voice of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, and proved to be his last official association with the character. On February 23, 2005 it was announced that Casino Royale would be the title of the 21st James Bond film, and Martin Campbell who had helmed Pierce Brosnan's debut as 007 GoldenEye (1995) would return to direct, although its star would not.

“BOND at 50”
As part of the ‘Crime Scene 2003’ season sponsored by Penguin Books and Turner Classic Movies, ‘Bond at 50’ celebrated 50 years since the publication of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel CASINO ROYALE (1953). The National Film Theatre presented a programme featuring rare footage (much of it unseen for decades), behind-the-scenes material, and an opportunity to hear stories from of the creators of the world of James Bond. ‘Bond at 50’ took place on Saturday July 12, 2003, and as part of the programme Omnibus: The British Hero was screened for the first time since its original broadcast on BBC1 at 10.10pm on Sunday October 7, 1973. The hour-long BBC documentary starred Christopher Cazenove as various British classic and contemporary heroes of literature, including Bulldog Drummond and Richard Hannay. Omnibus: The British Hero is perhaps best known for Christopher Cazenove's portrayal James Bond in two segments which dramatized the climax of Ian Flemings DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1956) with Wint and Kidd on board the Queen Elizabeth; and Bond's near emasculation in GOLDFINGER (1959), which reverted back to the circular saw of the novel, rather than the laser beam seen in the 1964 film. A panel discussion was presented by Gavin Collinson, with special guests including five-time James Bond director John Glen, GoldenEye cinematographer Phil Meheux, actress Zena Marshall [Miss Taro in Dr. No (1962)], and James Bond author John Gardner. The first James Bond film Dr. No (1962) starring Sean Connery was then screened in NFT1 starting at 7.40pm.

Daniel Craig announced as the new James Bond/Casino Royale teaser poster

“You Know My Name”
After an exhaustive search for a new actor to play James Bond, the blond-haired sixth incarnation was first seen at mid-day on Friday October 14, 2005 racing down London's river Thames in a marine speedboat wearing a Brioni suit, sunglasses and a lifejacket! After a gruelling press conference on board HMS President near London’s Tower Bridge, the world’s media got to work on the next day’s front pages. The Daily Mirror ran the headline ‘Bland, James Bland’ based on the actor’s low-key and abrupt answering of questions hurled at him by the hordes of journalists. ‘Blond, James Blond’ was another headline that made an issue of Craig being the first natural blonde to play Bond. Other complaints about him were that he was too short; his eyes were too blue, and even that he was too ugly to play Bond. Throughout the filming of Casino Royale Daniel Craig was subjected to a great deal of negative press comment, far more than even George Lazenby received after he took over from Sean Connery in 1968. In the days before the rise of social media, a group of fundamentalist anti-Craig fans conspired to boycott Casino Royale upon its release in November 2006, and their website www.craignotbond.com further fuelled the negative publicity toward the production. It was not until the release of the first trailer and moody teaser posters that the world began to realise that EON's gamble may have paid off.