While French filmmaker Luc Besson isn’t as big as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson stateside, his stature is certainly commensurate to these blockbuster titans in France and Europe. Besson’s EuropaCorp studio in France is gigantic and has released some of the biggest films to ever come out of Europe. But the filmmaker, known for “The Fifth Element” and the Scarlett Johansson-starring “Lucy,” which grossed over $420 million worldwide — the company’s biggest hit — has already charted his most ambitious project to date. Called “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” or simply “Valerian.”
Based on the popular French science-fiction comic “Valérian and Laureline” from author Pierre Christin and illustrator Jean-Claude Mézières, the story follows a time-traveling agent sent to investigate a galactic empire, along with his female partner. If it sounds expensive and ambitious it is — the budget is a whopping $180 million — and the movie stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. EuropaCorp are betting big on this property, no doubt wanting to spawn a big franchise and they’re so intent on its success they’ve already mailed out a graphic novel compendium of the series a year early so journos can familiarize themselves with the comic. Here’s the official synopsis:
Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are special operatives for the government of the human territories charged with maintaining order throughout the universe. Valerian has more in mind than a professional relationship with his partner- blatantly chasing after her with propositions of romance. But his extensive history with women, and her traditional values, drive Laureline to continuously rebuff him.
Under directive from their Commander (Clive Owen), Valerian and Laureline embark on a mission to the breathtaking intergalactic city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis comprised of thousands of different species from all four corners of the universe. Alpha’s seventeen million inhabitants have converged over time- uniting their talents, technology and resources for the betterment of all. Unfortunately, not everyone on Alpha shares in these same objectives; in fact, unseen forces are at work, placing our race in great danger.
“Valerian” also co-stars John Goodman, Ethan Hawke, Clive Owen, Rutger Hauer and pop star Rihanna (jazz legend Herbie Hancock apparently has a role in the movie too, but we suspect it isn’t big). The movie doesn’t hit theaters until next year, but a trailer is due imminently. And “Valerian” will boldly face off against “Wonder Woman” arriving just two days earlier on July 21, 2017. Meanwhile, Besson has released a first look of the film on Twitter and Instagram and you can see those photos below along with new images from EW.