Just before shooting the scene where Bond and Wai-Lin get on the motorcycle, Roger Spottiswoode took Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh aside, each without the other's knowledge, and told each of them not to let the other get in the driver's seat. The result is in the final film: Bond and Wai-Lin fight over who gets to drive before getting on the bike.
The original title of the film was "Tomorrow Never Lies", which makes sense when you consider media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) was creating the next day's headlines in advance, then causing those events to happen. But a typo on an early script draft was adopted by the producers, and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) was used instead.
Michelle Yeoh, who did most of her own stunts, asked her fellow motorbike stuntman to drive faster in the helicopter chase scene as it would make her hair fly out behind her, adding to the effect of speed.
Sir Anthony Hopkins was cast as Elliott Carver, and joined the production, but walked after three days because it was so chaotic, and there was no completed shooting script; due to the pressure on EON Productions to finish the film on time, new pages of the screenplay were being delivered every morning. He opted to star in The Mask of Zorro (1998) instead.
When they had to re-shoot the car park scene, it was too expensive to go back to Germany, so it was done at Brent Cross shopping center in London. Posters around the stores told shoppers that the explosions were nothing to worry about. It took ten days to shoot this car park scene, and seventeen BMWs were used.
The stealth ship is not a fictional invention. Lockheed secretly constructed and demonstrated one in the early 1980s, but the U.S. Navy finally decided they didn't want any. The prototype, called the Sea Shadow, was one hundred sixty feet long, and the movie's ship closely resembles it in shape.
Ricky Jay (Henry Gupta) is also an acclaimed magician, who holds a world record for the fastest throwing playing cards. The producers initially wanted a scene where he threw playing cards at Bond. They set up the scene to block, Ricky was fifty or seventy-five feet away, and was asked to hit Pierce Brosnan in the face. Ricky warned them it wasn't a good idea, safety wise. After they convinced him to do it, he agreed, and hit Pierce right above the eyes. To his disappointment, for some reason, they never asked him to repeat it on film. Gupta is shown throwing cards in the DVD deleted scenes.
One of the main reasons why John Barry turned down the opportunity to score another Bond film, was because the producing team insisted that he not have anything to do with the title song, which had already been assigned to Sheryl Crow. Barry was indignant at this stipulation, given his track record with Bond songs that are then echoed in the accompanying score. The gig then passed to David Arnold, who was equally unhappy about having a song imposed on him. Arnold's solution was to write a new song for the end credits, "Surrender", performed by k.d. lang, which thematically crops up throughout the score.
Pierce Brosnan and Teri Hatcher feuded briefly during filming, due to her arriving late onto the set one day. The matter was quickly resolved though, and Brosnan apologized to Hatcher, after realizing she was pregnant, and was late for that reason.
Though it has long been part of the James Bond character's reputation in story and dialogue, this is the first instance in the EON Productions official franchise, where James Bond has an on-screen relationship with a leading Bond Girl, who is known to be married to another man.
Product placements, brand integrations, promotional tie-ins, and sponsorships for this movie include: BMW in their second film in a three-picture promotional deal; L'Oréal cosmetics; Heineken beer; Dunhill; Ericsson cellular phones; Omega watches, James Bond wears an Omega Seamaster watch; Smirnoff Red label vodka; Brioni clothing; Bollinger champagne; Avis Rental Car; and Electronic Arts' tie-in video game, Tomorrow Never Dies (1999). This is the first movie in film history to have its entire budget be covered in product placement campaigns. Various companies each chipped in enough in endorsements to allow for the film's one hundred million dollar budget.
When James and Wai Lin are captured and prepared to be tortured, Stamper shows them his tools. This shot is the first clean close-up of Götz Otto's face throughout the film, which reveals that Stamper has heterochromea (mismatching eye color). His left eye is blue, while his right eye is brown. This is only true of the character however, as both of Otto's eyes are blue in real-life.
Teri Hatcher said that she accepted her role in this movie, to fulfill her then husband's lifelong dream of being married to a Bond girl. As it turned out, her scenes had to be filmed quickly, because of an unexpected pregnancy. She later expressed her dissatisfaction with the part, saying it was "an artificial kind of character to be playing that you don't get any special satisfaction from it."
In the original drafts of the script, Stamper was to have suffered a brain injury that caused pleasure to be registered as pain (and vice versa). The idea was dropped, but a version of it made it into The World Is Not Enough (1999), where the villain Renard is unable to feel pain.
According to the book "The Bond Legacy", a farewell scene for Q was written for this film, on the assumption that Desmond Llewelyn would soon retire from the role. The idea was dropped, only to be revived for The World Is Not Enough (1999).
A young Gerard Butler makes an appearance as "Leading Seaman - H.M.S. Devonshire." He was later considered to star as James Bond in Casino Royale (2006), but turned it down, due to fears of typecasting.
Because the second half of the film is set in Vietnam, the production negotiated for a while, for permission to film there. Although it appeared close, the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information eventually refused to allow it. The production decided to use Thailand as Vietnam, with Bangkok substituting for Saigon. At one point during filming, a helicopter mistakenly hovered over the American Embassy to Thailand, causing fears that it was spying.
This is the first James Bond movie in the official franchise to have a running time under two hours since Diamonds Are Forever (1971). The next film to run under two hours was Quantum of Solace (2008).
The opening arms bazaar sequence was originally intended to appear in The Living Daylights (1987). The weapons being sold at the arms bazaar were described as a Chinese Long March Scud rockets, and on the jet aircraft were Soviet SP-5 torpedoes. Neither of these weapon systems actually exist, however. The Long March program was a Chinese program designed to launch missiles into space, and the "SP-5" nuclear torpedo simply doesn't exist in Russian, or the former Soviet arsenal.
H.A.L.O. stands for High Altitude Low Opening Jump. Stuntman B.J. Worth had to make eighty jumps out of a plane in order to film the H.A.L.O. jump sequence, eight jumps less than the eighty-eight required for Moonraker (1979).
Stunt performers Mark Southworth and Wendy Leech performed the skyscraper jump on May 21, 1997, in Bankok, with temperatures reaching as high as one hundred ten degrees Fahrenheit (forty-three degrees Celsius). Wendy also doubled for Michelle Yeoh during the motorbike chase with Jean-Pierre Goy riding the BMW R1200C cruiser. A dummy was strapped to Goy's back, as he performed the rooftop jump over the helicopter on the same bike on July 24th. The helicopters blades had been removed to be added digitally in post-production. On that same day, Pierce Brosnan and Michelle Yeoh were filming their close-ups hanging thirty feet up at the side of a five-story building, to complete the Carver building stunt.
The headline, "The Empire will Strike Back", so admired by Elliot Carver when reviewing media reaction to the impending British attack, mirrors a real headline run by Newsweek during the Falklands War in 1982, picturing the H.M.S. Hermes, and the headline "The Empire Strikes Back".
The first draft of the script was set during the July 1997 transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese rule, with Carver a zealot bent on destroying Hong Kong, rather that hand it over to the Chinese. According to Director Roger Spottiswoode, this plot was dropped when former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was acting as a consultant on the production, warned that, if something actually did occur during the handover in real-life, the film would look ridiculous. Furthermore, this would have instantly dated a film that was due to open in November, so in January 1997, when production was kicking off, a frantic re-write of the script was taking place. With all of the actors and actresses on-board and ready to film, the new script also had to tally with their visions of their characters. Jonathan Pryce and Teri Hatcher were unhappy with the route their characters were taking in the new script, prompting even more re-writes.
MGM exerted a lot of pressure on the producers to come up with a follow-up to GoldenEye (1995) that was as successful. This was mainly at the urgings of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, who had recently bought the company, and wanted the release to coincide with MGM's public stock offering.
The title song tune was chosen by way of a competition. There were about twelve entries, including songs from Emil Jørgensen, Pulp, Saint Etienne, Marc Almond, Sheryl Crow, and David Arnold. The first choice was written and performed by Swan Lee, but they were turned down, because they were not famous enough. It was suggested that another artist sing the song instead, but Swan Lee rejected this idea. Pulp wrote a theme song, which later appeared on the B-side to the group's single "Help the Aged", following a title change to "Tomorrow Never Lies", the same name as the working title for this film. Sheryl Crow's song, which won out, did not chart in the U.S., but charted at the number eleven spot in the UK.
Seventeen 750iL Aspen Grey BMW's were used for the car chase. Four were adapted to be "hidden driver" cars, in which a concealed driver would sit in the back using a small steering wheel. Video monitors were attached to cameras hidden in the wing mirrors, and on top of the windshield. Three more BMW's were used as back-up for the hidden drivers. One car was equipped with the sliding glove compartment, revealing a safe, and only used for this one scene. Another, dubbed the "cannon", was specially prepared to be propelled off the roof. It was stripped of as much weight as possible, in order to be fired from a special rig. The remaining seven pristine cars were used only for back-up and exterior shots, including one that was being kept in Hamburg for shooting there.
The ships used in the film are Type-23 Duke Class Anti-Submarine frigates. The interior shots were all filmed at the H.M.S. Dryad ship simulator, and most of the personnel in the background are real Royal Navy personnel. Most of the dialogue and commands are very accurate, though some has been modified so the viewing public can understand it.
Not counting the regular characters of Bond, Q, M, and Miss Moneypenny, this is the first Bond movie to contain absolutely no Ian Fleming references (GoldenEye (1995) was named for Fleming's estate, and Licence to Kill (1989) used elements from several Fleming stories).
In GoldenEye (1995), M said: "Unlike the American government, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN". Ironically in this movie, she gets her intelligence from Elliot Carver's newspaper "Tomorrow".
The novelization, and the deleted scenes, give Elliot Carver's backstory. He is the illegitimate son of media mogul Lord Roverman, whom Carver drove to bankruptcy, and blackmails into suicide, later taking over his business.
Because the producers had already secured a release date, the production couldn't find studio space. They ended up shooting much of the interiors in a converted Asda (the British branch of Walmart) warehouse.
Because snow was an essential ingredient for the opening action sequence, and the existing snow was already melting, the art directors had to truck in loads of extra snow just to meet production requirements. This sequence alone took two weeks to complete.
In earlier drafts of the script, the villain Elliot Carver was known as Elliot Harmsway, and Wai Lin was known as Lin Pow. Michelle Yeoh pointed out that "pow", in Chinese, meant "bun", and it was changed. Carver was also the surname of C.I.A. Agent Rosie Carver in Live and Let Die (1973).
Roger Spottiswoode was insistent on having an authentic Russian rocket launcher for the opening sequence. Luckily for the production, a decommissioned unit was found, and had to be driven from Moscow, across Europe, to the location.
The Daily Mail reported that Roger Spottiswoode and Screenwriter Bruce Feirstein were no longer on speaking terms, and that crew members had threatened to resign, with one saying "All the happiness and teamwork, which is the hallmark of Bond has disappeared completely." This was denied by Pierce Brosnan, who claimed, "It was nothing more than good old creative argy-bargy", with Spottiswoode saying, "It has all been made up. Nothing important really went wrong."
A lot of the model work and underwater sequences were filmed in the "Titanic" tank at 20th Century Fox's Baja Studios in Mexico, just a few days after Titanic (1997) had completed filming. These two films were released in the same week in the U.S., causing this to be the only one of Pierce Brosnan's four James Bond films not to open at number one at the U.S. box-office.
The movie's score was not complete in time for the release of the soundtrack. As such, a second soundtrack album was released on January 11, 2000, by Chapter III Records. This album added additional tracks not featured in the first release, but removed the songs "Tomorrow Never Dies" by Sheryl Crow, "Surrender" by k.d. lang, "Station Break", and Moby's remix of the James Bond theme. The added tracks include: a David Arnold interview, as well as the tracks "Helicopter Ride", "Bike Chase", "Bike Shop Fight", "Kowloon Bay", "Boarding the Stealth", "A Tricky Spot for 007", and "All in a Day's Work".
The initial script was written by Bruce Feirstein, who had also worked on GoldenEye (1995). Roger Spottiswoode then re-worked it when he came on-board. He gathered seven leading screenwriters in London for a brainstorm, eventually choosing Nicholas Meyer to perform re-writes. The script then went to Daniel Petrie, Jr. and David C. Wilson before going back for one final polish to Feirstein, who retained sole writing credit.
The alleged "Atlantic Hotel" car park rooftop, belongs to an electronics department store. This car park is located on Steintorwall/Steinstraße, in Hamburg, but not in the neighborhood of the real "Hotel Atlantic". Bond's car is then propelled from the top of yet another building, a clothing retailer on Mönckebergstrasse/Lange Mühren, which has no parking facilities of its own, let alone its own roof.
Pierce Brosnan was injured during one of the fight scenes, a stuntman's helmet hit him in the face. Brosnan required eight stitches down one side of his face, leaving the crew no choice, but to film many of his scenes from one side only.
The end credits song "Surrender" was composed and sung in the style of a Dame Shirley Bassey song, Bassey, being a stalwart of Bond songs having sung several of them. David Arnold wanted this song to be used in the opening credits (the lyrics prominently feature the title "Tomorrow Never Dies"), but the producers preferred Sheryl Crow over k.d. lang. However, Arnold did incorporate the song instrumentally throughout his score.
The number plate of Bond's BMW 750iL is "B-MT 2144". This ties in with his Aston Martin DB5's number plate "BMT 214A". The original movie Aston Martin, (from Goldfinger (1964)), had "BMT 216A", which could not be used for legal reasons.
With the release date set for December 12, 1997, The second unit began filming the pre-title sequence (with a look-a-like substituting for Pierce Brosnan) in the Pyrenees on January 23, 1997. When Brosnan visited Hamburg on March 25th to promote Dante's Peak (1997), Desmond Llewelyn was flown to Germany to film the beginning of his scene at the airport. The rest of this sequence was later completed at Stansted Airport, England, after principal photography began on April Fool's Day.
An alternate version of the briefing-in-the-car scene was filmed, where the characters drink cocktails during the high-speed ride. The cocktail references were removed by using close-ups of the performers.
This was the second James Bond movie in a row in which Pinewood Studios, the studio that EON Productions regularly uses, was predominantly unavailable. It was booked for shooting Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), as it had been for GoldenEye (1995), when it was being used for First Knight (1995). For this movie, they used a grocery warehouse and former Radlett aerodrome site, which was renamed as EON/Frogmore Studios.
Roger Spottiswoode had hoped that the descent outside the building could be done by computerized visual effects, but in the end, a seven-story section of wall was constructed, and the stars lowered down alongside of it.
The "Situation Room" set, designed by Allan Cameron, was decorated with books on display hired by the meter, with titles including "The Companies Act, 1985", "The Insolvency Act, 1986", Protection and Industrial Decline", and "EEC and the Third World: A Survey".
The literal translations of some of the movie's foreign language titles include: James Bond 007: The Morning Dies Never (Germany); Agent 007 Tomorrow Never Dies (Italy); James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (Slovenia); Tomorrow is Indestructible (Turkey); Tomorrow Never Dies Not (Poland); 007 Tomorrow Never Dies (Brazil); The Tomorrow Never Dies (Argentina, Peru, Italy, and Spain); and The Empire After Today (or 007 and the Empire of Tomorrow) (Romania).
First James Bond movie to be released by MGM Distribution Company, due to a name change from MGM/UA Distribution Company. The former named company had released all the EON Productions Bond films from Octopussy (1983) to GoldenEye (1995).
In Carver's introduction scene, one of his reporters announces "floods in Pakistan, riots in Paris, and a plane crash in California." In 2005, hundreds of youths from low-income Parisian suburbs rioted for a month after two kids accidentally electrocuted themselves in a transformer while trying to hide from the police. In July 2010, Pakistan was devastated by one of the worst floods in history, killing nearly two thousand people. Then in July 2013, Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco, California.
Vehicles featured include: a silver gadget-laden BMW 750iL car; a brief glimpse of the silver birch Aston Martin DB5; a BMW Cruiser R1200C motorbike; Sikorsky S-65 and Eurocopter 350B A-Star, Eurocopter EC 135, and Eurocopter Panther AS 656 Attack helicopters; two Aero L-39 Fenix jets; a Ford Sierra; an Opel Senator 3.0i car; a Transport Allianz C-160 Transall airplane for the H.A.L.O. jump; a Chinese Junk; a Daimler Limousine; an Asian trawler; a Mercedes-Benz; a Range Rover; ships H.M.S. Bedford, H.M.S. Chester, and H.M.S. Devonshire; a Chinese MiG jet; a black rubber dinghy, and Elliot Carver's black catamaran-designed stealth ship.
This was the first of three Bond films to be adapted into books by then-current Bond novelist, Raymond Benson. Benson's version of Bruce Feirstein's screenplay is suitably expanded, and includes some nods to past Bond films, including the suggestion that Bond was lying when he said he had taken a course in Oriental languages in the movie You Only Live Twice (1967). The book is styled more after Fleming's novels, as opposed to the film, with detailed backstories given to characters, such as Elliot Carver, Stamper, and Paris Carver, missing from the film, which gave the characters more depth. Wai Lin's activities in China tracking General Chang before she travels to Hamburg (omitted from the film) are also included. Differences from the film: Carver suffers from Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ disorder) due to stress, and takes regular painkillers as a result. General Chang's fate is revealed, stating he was found by the police in Beijing, hiding inside a stall, in a women's restroom.
Teri Hatcher was unable to film a love scene with Pierce Brosnan, because she was pregnant. The love scene was replaced with the scene in which Elliott Carver watches recorded footage of Paris asking Bond if he still sleeps with a gun under his pillow, confirming Gupta's discovery that Bond is a government Agent.
For the fight scene in the bicycle shop, the producers had to call in Jackie Chan's stunt team, because none of the stuntmen wanted to do the scene with Michelle Yeoh, due to her full contact stunt fighting style, which she perfected while she was a member of the Jackie Chan stunt team.
Live and Let Die (1973) was the first James Bond movie to feature the word "die" (or a variation of it) in the picture's title. Later films in the official film franchise would be called Die Another Day (2002) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). The theme song for Quantum of Solace (2008), by Alicia Keys and Jack White, was called "Another Way To Die", and Licence to Kill (1989) referenced death, as did the title of Ian Fleming's short story "From a View to a Kill" (1960). Several post-Fleming James Bond novels have had titles that have referenced fatality. These include "Win, Lose or Die" (1989), "High Time to Kill" (1999), "The Facts of Death" (1998), "Trigger Mortis" (2015), "Nobody Lives for Ever" (1986), and "Never Dream of Dying" (2001). Moreover, "Double or Die" (2007) and "A Hard Man to Kill" (2009) are the names of a Young James Bond novel and short story, respectively.
The film's Charity World Premiere was held on Tuesday, December 9, 1997 (which is also Judi Dench's birthday), at the Odeon Theatre Leicester Square in London, England. The launch was not a Royal Premiere on this occasion. The Gala Charity Premiere Benefit was held in aid of the King George's Fund for Sailors. The after-party was held at the Bedford Square house of Jonathan Cape, the publisher of the Ian Fleming James Bond novels. The American Gala Premiere, in the U.S., was held in Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 16, 1997, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
A promotional advertisement for BMW tying-in with the movie showed its three vehicles (two cars and one motorbike) together with the logos for the movie and BMW. The main tagline read: "How could Bond possibly be faithful to just one? BMW - The Ultimate Driving Machine." The bottom tagline read: "See James Bond's new loves in the film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) on general release from 12th December."
The film was originally going to be called "Tomorrow Never Comes". There are video tapes, that were in distribution when the film was released on video cassette, that have the caption "Tomorrow Never Comes" at the beginning of the tape, not the beginning of the movie.
Daphne Deckers: The wife of the Wimbledon 1996 Winner Richard Krajicek as Elliot Carver's Public Relations lady. Reportedly, she wanted to audition for the role of Paris Carver. Being too late for this, the production wrote in this small cameo role for her.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the movie tie-in novelization, it is revealed that Stamper's (Götz Otto's) hobby is making "snuff porn". He enjoys kidnapping young women and filming them while they're being raped and tortured, and sells the videos on the black market to thrill-seekers. That is why he has a man filming the execution of the Naval Officers.
Rumors have circulated that Paris was intended to be an established character, possibly Natalya Simonova (GoldenEye (1995)) or Sylvia Trench (Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963)), but this was nixed, due to fearing the bad reception that would come from killing her off.
Towards the end of the film, Stamper drops Wai Lin into the sea, while she is bound up by the chain. Even though she is bound, her arm is free enough to throw the detonators to Bond. As the chain is still attached to the pulley, she could have saved herself by pulling herself back to the surface, and would therefore not have needed Bond to resuscitate her.