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Release and technical

35mm Panavision (anamorphic) - aspect ratio 2.35 : 1 - Mono sound mix - Technicolor

Original UK release classification - 'A'

Current MPAA classification - (sexual innuendo, violence)

Production studios - Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England

Filmed - February 16th to July 9th 1965

Budget $9 million
Worldwide gross $141.2 million
(US gross) ($63.6 million)
(Non-US gross) ($77.6 million)
Japan (world premiere) December 9th 1965
US premiere December 21st 1965
UK premiere December 29th 1965

General release:

Australia December 17th 1965
Denmark December 17th 1965
France December 17th 1965
Sweden December 17th 1965
West Germany December 17th 1965
Spain December 20th 1965
Finland December 25th 1965
Japan December 25th 1965
Norway December 26th 1965
US December 29th 1965
Ireland February 10th 1966
Argentina April 6th 1966
Iceland February 7th 1970

Foreign titles

France Opération Tonnerre Operation Thunder
Italy (Agente 007 - Thunderball:) Operazione Tuono Operation Thunder
Belgium / the Netherlands Operatie Donder / Kalm aan, Mr. Bond Operation Thunder / Calm Down, Mr Bond
Germany Feuerball Fireball
Sweden Åskbollen The Thunder Ball
Denmark Agent 007 I Ilden Agent 007 In Fire
Portugal Operação Relâmpago Operation Lightning
Norway Operasjon Tordensky Operation Tordensky
Spain / Mexico / Argentina Operación Trueno Operation Thunder
Finland Pallosalama .
Turkey Yildirim Harekati .
Brazil Chantagem Atômica Atomic Blackmail
Israel . The Ball of Thunder
Poland Operacja Piorun Operation Lightning
China . 007 Averts SPECTRE
Japan . Thunderball Fighting

The UK film premiere

The UK film premiere of 'Thunderball' (the night of December 29th 1965) was such a big event that there was a 'dual premiere' - two locations were used. The London Pavilion Cinema, where 'Dr. No' had premiered in October 1962, hosted one and guests included Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi, Tania Mallet and Honor Blackman. The Rialto Cinema hosted the other - guests included Guy Doleman, Molly Peters and Martine Beswick.

The premiere party was held at the Royal Garden Hotel following the dual showings.

[Both 'From Russia With Love' and 'Goldfinger' had premiered at the Odeon, Leicester Square and where, from 'You Only Live Twice', all future official Bond films have been first seen in the UK].

Both Sean Connery and Cubby Broccoli were not present for the premiere. Connery escaped the spotlight and stayed at home with wife and children; Broccoli was in New York - his mother had died two days earlier.

January 1st 1966 saw Rank hold midnight matinees at all nine of its Premiere Showcase cinemas around London.

February 10th 1966 saw a charity premiere held at the Savoy in Dublin. Luciana Paluzzi, Molly Peters, Kevin McClory and Cubby Broccoli were amongst the guests. This was followed by a party held by McClory at the Gresham Hotel.

The UK TV premiere

Screened on the ITV network - February 26th 1977.

ITV had bought the TV rights to the first six James Bond films for £850,000.

ITV network showings

February 26th 1977 (premiere)
May 29th 1978
January 2nd 1984
June 29th 1986
January 7th 1989
April 20th 1992
August 8th 1992
April 12th 1993
February 19th 1994
June 19th 1999
December 25th 2002
July 28th 2003
July 30th 2005
November 3rd 2007 (ITV2)
February 23rd 2008
September 27th 2009
October 30th 2010
November 25th / November 26th 2010 (ITV4)
August 27th 2011
November 27th / November 28th 2011 (ITV4)
March 10th / March 11th 2012 (ITV4)
June 16th 2012
August 9th 2014 (ITV4
January 1st 2015
January 10th 2016
April 20th / April 24th 2016 (ITV4)
October 14th / October 20th 2016 (ITV4)
April 16th 2017
July 28th / August 3rd 2017 (ITV4
February 1st / February 4th 2018 (ITV4
February 17th 2019
April 11th / April 13th 2019 (ITV4)
July 18th 2020
January 7th / January 13th 2021 (ITV4)

The US film premiere

Screened at the Manhattan Paramount Theater in New York - December 21st 1965.

The pilot of the Bell Textron jet pack was arrested after a stunt where he jetted off the top of the cinema - he did not have a suitable permit.

The US TV premiere - The ABC Sunday Night Movie

"For the first time on television - Thunderball. James Bond is agent 007. Bond takes his work very seriously. Sean Connery is James Bond, 007 is back in Thunderball."

Screened on ABC - September 22nd 1974.

United Artists had sold the broadcast rights for the series to ABC in 1972 - 'Goldfinger' was the first film screened.

US TV Special: 007: The Incredible World of James Bond

Screened on NBC - November 26th 1965.

One hour long special - including footage of Fleming at Goldeneye; film of Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi and Martine Beswick posing for the press; behind the scenes footage of the filming at Silverstone aswell as footage of the onboard fight on the Disco Volante from the film's climax.

Produced and directed by Jack Haley Jr. / narrated by Alexander Scourby / A David L. Wolper Production.

Excerpts also used from 'Dr. No', 'From Russia With Love' and 'Goldfinger'.


Leslie Bricusse was hired to write lyrics early on in production of the film. The title song was to be 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' - which is what Bond had become known as in both Italy and Japan. John Barry and Bricusse wrote the theme and Barry then scored the film around the song which was originally recorded by Shirley Bassey, later by Dionne Warwick.

John Barry - "Dionne's was a marvellous song and she did a great arrangement for it. It was a really strange song. I had about twelve cow bells on it with different rhythms, along with a large orchestra, and thought it a very original piece. Then, at the last minute, they got cold feet and decided to have a song called 'Thunderball'."

A last minute decision by the producers to change the theme to 'Thunderball' meant a new song had to be written. With Bricusse working on another project, Don Black was brought in to write the new theme with John Barry. Tom Jones sung the new title theme, reportedly passing out after hitting the final note of the song. The soundtrack was compiled before John Barry could complete the film's scoring and so most of the tracks featured on the original LP were from only the first half of the film.

The theme song 'Thunderball' reached number 35 in the UK singles chart (entering the chart on January 13th 1966) and number 25 in the US Billboard singles chart (entering on December 11th 1965).

The soundtrack album reached number 10 in the US Billboard albums chart (entering the chart on December 11th 1965).

Original Soundtrack listing

1. Main Title -Thunderball - Vocal by Tom Jones
2. Chateau Flight
3. The Spa
4. Switching The Body
5. The Bomb
6. Cafe Martinique
7. Thunderball
8. Death Of Fiona
9. Bond Below Disco Volante
10. Search For Vulcan
11. 007
12. Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Remastered version (2003)

13. Gunbarrel / Traction Table / Gassing The Plane / Car Chase
14. Bond Meets Domino / Shark Tank / Lights Out For Paula / For King And Country
15. Street Chase
16. Finding The Plane / Underwater Ballet / Bond With Spectre Frogmen / Leiter To The Rescue / Bond Joins Underwater Battle
17. Underwater Mayhem / Death Of Largo / End Titles
18. Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (Mono)

Theme Lyrics

"He always runs while others walk
He acts while other men just talk
He looks at this world and wants it all
So he strikes, like Thunderball
He knows the meaning of success
His needs are more, so he gives less
They call him the winner who takes all
And he strikes, like Thunderball
Any woman he wants, he'll get
He will break any heart without regret
His days of asking are all gone
His fight goes on and on and on
But he thinks that the fight is worth it all
So he strikes, like Thunderball"

Original soundtrack advert from Argentina - thanks to Nicolás Suszczyk


John Stears won an Oscar (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award) in 1966 (April 18th) in the category 'Best Effects - Special Visual Effects' for 'Thunderball' - the second and final Oscar to date awarded to the Bond series.

(Also nominated was J. McMillan Johnson for 'The Greatest Story Ever Told').

Ken Adam was nominated for a BAFTA award also in 1966 in the category 'Best British Art Direction (Colour)' for 'Thunderball'.

Richard Maibaum was nominated for an 'Edgar' at the Edgar Allan Poe awards in 1966 in the category 'Best Foreign Film' for 'Thunderball'.