Spielberg Tried & Failed To Make A James Bond Movie 3 Times

Steven Spielberg is one of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers, but despite three attempts, he hasn't been able to make a James Bond movie. Following 1971’s Duel and 1974’s The Sugarland Express, Steven Spielberg’s career went stratospheric with the release of Jaws in 1975. The impact this had on Hollywood filmmaking was massive since Jaws - along with Spielberg’s follow-up Close Encounters of the Third Kind and George Lucas’ Star Wars - profoundly shaped the concept of blockbuster cinema in the years following their release.


James Bond was one of the movie franchises that benefited most from this. This was despite the series predating the release of Jaws by over a decade. However, it should be noted that James Bond movies tend to reflect movie trends rather than act as trendsetters themselves. Obvious examples of this have been seen recently in the influence of Jason Bourne on Casino Royale and Daniel Craig's James Bond, as well as with the Blaxploitation influence on Live and Let Die, and the inspiration taken from Alfred Hitchcock in From Russia with Love.

Related: What Steven Spielberg Thought About The Jaws Sequels

Since Steven Spielberg desired to make a Bond movie in the 1970s, there can be little doubt that James Bond has been an inspiration in his career. Indeed, he made overtures to Bond producer Albert. R. “Cubby” Broccoli for a chance to direct on three occasions. The first involved a chance meeting with Roger Moore in Paris in the early 1970s, about which Moore (via MTV) recalled, "We sat, and we talked. He said he would love to direct a Bond. At this time, all I knew about him was that I had seen 'Duel,' which I thought was a superb bit of moviemaking." Roger Moore, who played James Bond for 12 years, then passed this information onto Broccoli who turned Spielberg down due to a lack of directorial experience. The other times were after the phenomenal success of Jaws, with Spielberg going directly to Broccoli, who, again, turned him down on both occasions for different reasons. The first time, Broccoli thought he was wrong for the job, while the second time, coming after the release of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was due to him believing that Spielberg was too successful for Eon Pictures to afford him.

How James Bond Influenced Steven Spielberg Movies

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Harrison Ford and Sean Connery - Henry Walton Jones Senior

In some ways, this was a missed opportunity for the James Bond franchise since, beyond Spielberg’s directorial skills, they lost the chance to utilize someone with a genuine love for James Bond. This passion was emphasized in the use of a 007 Easter egg that appeared in Jaws showing a Louisiana license plate bearing the number “0070981.” Although Spielberg hasn’t confirmed this James Bond reference, it would be easy to assume it was deliberate given that he had an affinity with the movies and that he desired to make one at the time.

Of all Spielberg’s movies, the ones that most clearly alluded to the influence of James Bond were the Indiana Jones movies. Arguably, Raiders of the Lost Ark originated almost directly from Steven Spielberg’s frustrated desire to make a James Bond movie. Following the release of Star Wars, Spielberg and George Lucas went on vacation together and Lucas, sympathizing with Spielberg, suggested that his story idea for Raiders of the Lost Ark, despite its alleged Indiana Jones plot hole, would be an even better fit for Spielberg than Bond.

In this way, Spielberg was able to make movies that were, according to Roger Moore, “one step beyond Bond.” Nevertheless, Spielberg’s desire to honor the James Bond movies was illustrated in choices like Indiana Jones’ white tuxedo and red carnation lapel at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and in casting the original James Bond, Sean Connery, as Henry Jones Sr in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Evidently, there was no animosity after Spielberg was denied the chance to make a James Bond movie, and, ultimately, audiences benefited from that decision by being given the Indiana Jones movies. After all, the oldest incarnation of 007, Roger Moore did astutely observe that they improved the later Bond movies because they “made Bond step up.”