Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will release in China this August. Luc Besson’s ambitious tentpole film, starring Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Sergeant Laureline, aims to bring the iconic French comic book series of the same name to life on the big screen, utilizing an astonishing 2,734 visual effect shots throughout the entire film. Although the movie was criticized for its flawed plot, some critics and moviegoers heralded the filmmaker’s visual effects efforts, with many comparing the film with Besson’s The Fifth Element.
The common suggestion from those who’ve seen the movie and enjoyed Besson’s efforts have said that this is the type of film that needs to be seen on the biggest screen possible, something that acclaimed director Peter Jackson agreed with when he called the movie “magically enchanting” and seeing it was an “unforgettable big screen experience.” Unfortunately, visual effects weren’t enough to convince people to see the movie during its opening weekend. Going up against Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Valerian flopped with an abysmal $17 million take at the domestic box office. Despite having flopped domestically, that doesn’t mean the movie won’t find success internationally.
Variety reports that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has managed to pull in an extra $25 million across 16 international markets, including France, and the movie has now been confirmed to release in China on August 25. Valerian will be among the first foreign movies (non-Chinese) to release in China following the conclusion of the country’s annual summer blackout period for non-Chinese made productions, which usually allows for local films to thrive in an otherwise crowded market of Hollywood blockbusters.
Although Valerian flopped in North America, it may yet find success overseas (the movie continues to roll out around the world), especially in China, where these types of spectacle movies tend to shine. It wouldn’t be the first time that a movie has flopped domestically only to be heralded as a success story after releasing internationally. For instance, Duncan Jones’ Warcraft amassed only $47 million at the domestic box office (a number that Valerian may also end with), but managed to pull in an extra $386 million internationally ($$213.5 million came from China alone), thus bringing its total to $433.6 million — and making the movie the highest-grossing video game movie ever.
If Valerian still doesn’t recoup its $177+ million production budget after releasing in China and throughout the rest of the world, it’s unlikely that the movie would be considered a failure. Besson has mastered the art of film financing, and thanks to some clever financing techniques, Valerian has a minimal chance of actually failing, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be considered a success.
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