Dr. No was United Artists’ second choice for the first Bond movie, after Thunderball. The novel had come out recently in 1961, when Eon Productions got the film rights to the Bond books, but the producers’ top pick was embroiled in scandal: a director named Kevin McClory had filed a lawsuit claiming that Fleming had stolen plot points McClory and a screenwriter created for a never-made Bond movie and included them in the book Thunderball. The suit wasn’t resolved until 1963, in a settlement that gave McClory screen rights to the story. The Thunderball movie came to fruition two years later, through an agreement that gave McClory a co-producer role on the Eon Production movie. Still, McClory kept the screen rights to the book — and in 1983, after Sean Connery had spent more than a decade away from the franchise, McClory not only exercised his right to adapt the story but also persuaded Connery to star in it.
With the other Thunderball movie established as a classic by the ’80s, the film would need a new title. Rumor has it the title found itself when Connery’s wife Micheline remarked that he should “never say never again,” now that he was coming back as Bond.