“I went back to the comics to read them again. I arrived at the same conclusion – impossible,” Besson continued. “But every year I looked again and thought, maybe one day it is possible. So I took an option, and started writing a little bit.” That “little bit” soon turned into a lot. And on June 29, 2012, Variety reported that Besson’s adaption of Valerian was in pre-production.
However, it still took a good few years for the film to get off the ground. Production didn’t officially begin until 2015, and that same year the two leads were chosen. Dane DeHaan, who had previously appeared in the blockbuster The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was cast as Valerian. Meanwhile, model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne, who had already starred in teen flick Paper Towns, would portray Laureline.
Principal photography subsequently started in January 2016, but filming the actors wasn’t the difficult part. That was the 2,734 special-effect shots needed for the movie – The Fifth Element, by contrast, had required just 188. Nonetheless, the money was available, so the technology needed to bring Valerian’s world to 3D life could be utilized. And come 2017, the movie was ready to be released, with its U.S. premiere being held in July of that year.