Earlier this year, Luc Besson announced his first space epic since The Fifth Element: an adaptation of the famous (well … famous in Europe) comic series Valerian. For those of us in America who have never heard of it, it’s a series of French graphic novel from ’70s that had a big influence on many of the science fiction movies of the time, especially Star Wars.
The plot revolves around Valerian and Laureline, space and time travelling agents/lovers that cross the galaxy completing missions for a mysterious organization. Kinda strange, sure … but not that difficult to grasp. Alas, Besson traveled a bit into the weeds trying to explain it at Comic-Con. Via the New York Times:
As envisioned, his film — carrying a budget of $180 million — will be sort of a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” in space, he said.
“Valerian” reflects a jaw-dropping risk. Aside from the budget, Mr. Besson has cast two stars (Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan) without much marquee value. The source material is not well known outside of Europe, and the story lines can be confusing. To be honest, this reporter at times lost Mr. Besson as he spoke about a princess who “expresses herself like an octopus” and went on about something called “ambassador of the shadows.”
Yes, he realized “Valerian” represents an enormous risk. “If I didn’t want to have risk, I’d work at the post office,” he said. How did he plan to market the film? “Honestly,” he answered, “I have no idea.”
Besson also referenced being inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, saying he threw his original script in the garbage after watching it. The new script has only five parts for humans, with the rest of the cast made up of alien species.
With great risk comes great reward: while everything hinges on Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets being a success at the box office, the series has the potential to spawn numerous sequels. EuropaCorp studio marketing manager Fabrice Denizot envisioned a “mission-driven franchise like James Bond” … just more proof that everyone involved is shooting for the stars with this massive space opera.