Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.
MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: A typo led to the title of the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.
1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, the second film to star Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, was the first James Bond film whose title had no connection to Bond creator Ian Fleming (the first 16 films were based on Fleming novels starring Bond and the 17th film, GoldenEye, was named after the estate where Fleming wrote the novels).
Screenwriter Bruce Feirstein was tasked with coming up with a name for the film, and he was stuck until he was listening to the Beatles’ classic album, Revolver, which includes the song “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
In the film, Jonathan Pryce plays a villainous media mogul who runs a newspaper called Tomorrow.
Their slogan, like the New York Times’ slogan of “All the news that’s fit to print,” was to be “Tomorrow never lies,” and Feirstein was going to use that as the title of the movie. “Tomorrow never lies” is a common enough phrase, so it would have made sense as a title.
Here’s where there is a little confusion, though. Right from the get-go, there was debate among the producers of the film over the title, with the argument being what is a better title – “Tomorrow Never Lies,” which makes sense but is perhaps not as dynamic of a title and “Tomorrow Never Dies,” which doesn’t really make sense but is more dynamic, due to the fact that it has the word “dies” in it, which movies (particularly movies like James Bond films) tend to like in their title.
Eventually, though, the more sensical title was chosen and it was faxed to MGM (the studio who was making the film).
However, there was a typo by an assistant, and instead of sending Tomorrow Never Lies as the title, they accidentally sent Tomorrow Never Dies, and MGM went ahead with that as the title.
So yes, a typo DID lead to the film being called Tomorrow Never Dies rather than Tomorrow Never Lies, but in most of the tellings of the story, it makes it out like it was a matter of someone seeing the typo and saying, “Oh! That’s a MUCH better name!” and going with it, while the alternate name was always something that was considered.
The legend is…
STATUS: True (if Slightly Overblown)
Thanks to Bruce Feirstein for explaining the story in a column he did for Vanity Fair (check it out here).
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