Director Luc Besson has made acclaimed filmed loaded with imagination, bold ideas, and great characters.
The director exploded on to the scene with the assassin films Nikita and the Professional, then created the unique and grandiose sci-fi adventure film the Fifth Element, and followed that up with the mind-bending period trip The Messenger. Recently he blended the sci-fi and assassin elements for the Scarlet Johannson film Lucy.
Besson has made a name for himself as a writer and director for films he's truly passionate about, preferring worldbuilding with strong characterization in unique stories rather than churning something out for the sake of a check. At least when he's directing. And throughout his history of making successful and original movies, he's earned some goodwill.
Enough goodwill that he's just finished the most expensive production in French history.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, based on the comic book Valérian and Laureline, was made with a budget of €197.47 million, which rounds out to about $209 million. It more than doubles the previous record held by Asterix at the Olympic Games, which was made for €78 million ($82.78 million).
Now the question remains: will it pay off?
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The film certainly has all the flavors of a Luc Besson film—visually dynamic settings, blink-and-you'll-miss-it plot elements, and an ever evolving dynamic between a man and woman that borderlines on romance—but will that be enough to make it appeal in the states?
It should be noted that this isn't the market where Besson might smash—they're banking on it having a huge opening in France. Why else would primary backer National Center of Cinematography, an agency of the French Ministry of Culture, invest as much money as they have?
Besson has appeal in the international market, having made many successful films in the United States and across the globe, but this project is ambitious.
The marketing campaign is obviously vast but it has yet to make a huge splash in the US. And we're still months away, that could ramp up as we near the film's release date.
We'll find out when Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opens on July 21.
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is the new adventure film from Luc Besson, the director of The Professional, The Fifth Element and Lucy, based on the comic book series which inspired a generation of artists, writers and filmmakers. In the 28th century, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are a team of special operatives charged with maintaining order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the Minister of Defense, the two embark on a mission to the astonishing city of Alpha-an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over centuries to share knowledge, intelligence and cultures with each other. There is a mystery at the center of Alpha, a dark force which threatens the peaceful existence of the City of a Thousand Planets, and Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.