Released 20 years ago today, this Bond movie changed its ending following the events of 9/11 6 months ago

Released 20 years ago today, this Bond movie changed its ending following the events of 9/11

While we wait for the new Bond to be announced, we've taken a look back at how the real world has collided with 007.

Over the years, Bond movies have been heavily influenced by real-world events, but nowhere was that more evident than during Pierce Brosnan's tenure as 007.


The original plot of Tomorrow Never Dies (released in 1997) was set around the handover of Hong Kong from Great Britain to China, but producers changed their minds when they realised this would forever date the movie.

During the run-up to the release of Bond's 20th movie, it was pitched that 007 would be chasing down none other than Osama Bin Laden, with Brosnan later telling the Irish Examiner that "It's a good idea, but not this time", back when he thought he had at least one more outing in the spy role.

Instead, the 20th Bond movie - Die Another Day - would set the action in North Korea, which isn't exactly lacking in real-world issues.

However, when production began on in January of 2002, it was the events from four months earlier that directly impacted the story of what would ultimately become Brosnan's final time ordering drinks shaken, not stirred.


Before the movie was ultimately directed by Lee Tamahori (Mulholland Falls), Pierce Brosnan had discussed the idea of getting Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) and John McTiernan (Die Hard) on board, and allegedly even pitched the idea to Martin Scorsese while they shared a flight.

Meanwhile, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson reportedly initially offered the gig to Michael Apted (who had just directed The World Is Not Enough for them), before then offering it to Tony Scott (Man on Fire) and John Woo (Face/Off).

The script was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade – who have written every Bond movie from The World Is Not Enough all the way up to No Time To Die – with the initial ending of the movie to involve the North Korean satellite system attacking Manhattan.


As reported by Ajay Chowdhury in his book 'Some Kind of Hero: 007 - The Remarkable Story of the James Bond films', just months before the movie was to begin production – and a little over a year after the movie arrived in cinemas – the 9/11 attacks happened, and the movie's creators decided to relocate the finale to the Korean Demilitarised Zone instead.

While Hollywood would react to the attacks with the tone and mood of their blockbusters - the ghost of 9/11 looms large over The Dark Knight, War of the Worlds and The Bourne Identity - the fact that Die Another Day is the first post-9/11 Bond movie only makes the movie's bonkers-ness stand out all the more.

This is a movie with space lasers, invisible cars, ice palaces, Korean warlords using science to become posh British aristocrats, and Bond using a parachute to go surfing on a tidal wave.

But there is still some semblance, the tiniest of itches, within Die Another Day that nods towards the real world. During the course of the movie, Bond is held captive for 14 months, and upon his release, M tells him "While you were out, the world changed", to which Bond replies "Not for me". The world might have had to endure 9/11, but James Bond is adamant about staying put. At least for now.


Since then, Bond has indeed changed to match the global landscape, but while Die Another Day did change some scenes here and there, it oversteered so severely to not collide with the real world, that it wound up in ditch of ridiculousness.

Which is how we got the comparative gritty realism of Casino Royale for the next Bond movie.

Should you want to, Die Another Day is available to watch on Prime Video right now.