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The surprising reason why Licence to Kill changed its original title

The Timothy Dalton Bond flick originally had a different moniker.

License-to-Kill
Getty
Published: Saturday, 30th July 2022 at 7:00 pm
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This Saturday evening (30th July), ITV will once again air a classic Bond flick in the prime-time 8pm slot – and this time Timothy Dalton's second and final 007 adventure Licence to Kill is the chosen film.

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Although the film was met with something of a mixed reception upon its initial release in 1989, its reputation has grown in the intervening years – and indeed it cracks the top 10 of RadioTimes.com's own definitive Bond ranking.

But something that you might not know about the film is that it was originally set to be released under a slightly different title.

During production, the film was referred to as Licence Revoked – which, of course, is in keeping with the events of the film, in which Dalton's 007 goes rogue and breaks away from MI6. It was only after feedback from American test screenings that it was altered to its eventual title.

The issue was that American audiences claimed the original title was too closely associated with the rather banal Department of Motor Vehicles – with 'license revoked' being a common American phrase for the withdrawal of a driver's license.

The last-minute change ended up causing a few issues regarding the film's promotion, given that teaser posters created by Bob Peak had been commissioned bearing the original title and thus couldn't be used, but thankfully that didn't seem to do too much damage in the long run.

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To confuse matters even further, in Italy the name Licence to Kill had already been used for another 007 outing – with Dr. No having been released under that title in 1962.

And so the film was titled Vendetta Privata in Italy – which translates directly as Private Revenge. In Japan, meanwhile, it was simply called The Cancelled License.

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