Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets may yet see a sequel, according to director Luc Besson. Valerian was one of the most notable box office disappointments of the year – alongside films such as King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword and The Dark Tower – and was a glossy, big-budget science fiction movie from the director of The Fifth Element.
The film was based on a cult French comic series that Besson had wanted to adapt for decades, and its estimated budget of $180 million makes it the most expensive French movie ever made. Despite Besson’s passion for the project and a cast that included Dane DeHaan, Rihanna and Cara Delevingne, the film opened at fifth place in North America on its opening weekend and fell out of the top ten shortly after. Valerian fared a little better overseas, but thus far it’s only grossed around $220 million worldwide - far below its breakeven point.
Despite the bleak numbers, Luc Besson refused to rule out a sequel during an interview with Italian website BadTaste. The film opens in Italy this week, and the director is waiting for Valerian to finish its run before making a decision about potential sequels.
“I value the Italian option. And there’s still Japan also to open. We still have a couple of countries. But so far there’s a huge, huge fanbase for Valerian. I’m very surprised. Like I receive messages every day, I mean like people screaming for Valerian 2 already. So there’s a community for sure. So it’s positive.”
When asked specially about the film’s underperformance and how that would affect future plans, he remained decidedly upbeat.
“I wish for every director around the world to do this level of admission, you know? (Laughs) Because we’re like pretty high already. What happens today, you know it’s a little different than like 5 or 10 years ago. Because the way people consume the film is very different. Like people are very busy, so they go to the cinema, but you stay on screen like three weeks. Before when I start my movie like Fifth Element or Leon, you stay 12, 15, 20 weeks in theater.
Ultimately, the director is waiting to see how Valerian does on DVD and VOD:
Now you stay on screen for like two, three weeks and the VOD very soon, you have the DVD, the TV, so sometimes people they want to see a film and miss it, so they go there. So let’s wait till the end of what we call the first circle. The first circle is really theater, VOD, DVD and to see what is the audience.”
Despite the film’s middling box office and critical response, it still received good reviews for its colorful visuals, epic scale and goofy tone. The main areas of complaints focused on Dane DeHaan (who felt miscast in the title role), a muddled story, and thin characterizations. While it’s nice to see Besson is still passionate about making a Valerian sequel, it's doubtful the film will end its box office run with the numbers to support one.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is available on Blu-ray November 21, 2017.