Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was all set up to be an enormous sci-fi hit. For a start, it was made by Luc Besson, the famous French director behind the iconic 1997 film The Fifth Element. It also starred two big up-and-coming young actors, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, as well as pop megastar Rihanna. The movie even had the largest budget ever put together for a French film of any genre. Yet, despite all of these things, it flopped hard. So, what in the universe went wrong ?
Americans may not know this, but the film’s plot is derived from Valérian et Laureline, a French comic strip. Besson read it as a young boy and subsequently dreamed of one day adapting it into a film. In fact, the subject of one day bringing it to the big screen came up quite a while ago, back when he was shooting The Fifth Element.
That’s because one of the people who worked on The Fifth Element was Valérian et Laureline author Jean-Claude Mézières. “He’s the one who said, ‘Why are you doing this sh**ty film? Why you don’t do Valerian?’” Luc Besson told Deadline in 2017. “My first answer was, ‘Because it’s impossible.’ In my memory, there are basically two actors and a billion monsters, and I didn’t know how we could do it.”