Luc Besson Talks 'Avatar' Inspiration at 'Valerian' Premiere


“I just want to do something different because that’s what I want as a moviegoer, I want something fresh and new,” the director told THR.

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets director Luc Besson, walking the black carpet at The Chinese Theater Monday, gave credit to James Cameron’s Avatar as a main source of his inspiration. 

Cast members Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan and Rihanna joined him at the Hollywood event to preview the filmmaker’s latest sci-fi creation. 

After seeing Valerian for the first time, Besson described The Hollywood Reporter his initial reaction at the final product: “I was surprised. I didn’t expect that we could be at this high level of definition and creativity.”

He added that Valerian was a project he wanted to stand out and also create an entirely new way audiences see sci-fi and comic-inspired stories.

“If you want to come up with something, if you’re pretentious enough to say ‘I’m coming with something new,’ come with something really new and different,” said Besson. “I’d rather take the risk, that people watch the film and are blown away and get lost because there is so much but I don’t want to do the things that we see almost every week now. I just want to do something different because that’s what I want as a moviegoer, I want something fresh and new.”

“Luc’s imagination is so incredible and the fact that technology has finally caught up to that, [it’s] the ultimate summer movie,” DeHaan told THR on the black carpet.

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets hits theaters July 21.



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Luc Besson on the Risks of 'Valerian' and That Time James Cameron "Took Me for a Moron"


As the EuropaCorp mogul — and THR’s International Producer of the Year — prepares to release the most expensive film of his career, he opens up about his arm’s-length relationship with Hollywood (“I do ‘Leon,’ they send me four ‘Leons'”) and his lifelong obsession with an “impossible”-to-film French comic book.

Luc Besson was 8 years old when he fell in love with the French graphic novel Valerian and Laureline, about two young adventurers who travel through space and time. Now, half a century later, the 58-year-old French producer-director is bringing his childhood infatuation to the screen. At $180 million, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is by far the most expensive picture he has ever made, with double the budget of his last sci-fi feature, 1997’s The Fifth Element. The STX release (which opens July 21) is the biggest bet yet from a man who has made a career of them — from directing 1985’s Subway to 1990’s La Femme Nikita (one of the first action flicks centered on a woman) to 1994’s Leon: The Professional and 2014’s Lucy, not to mention producing franchises like Taxi and Taken.

But no matter how much Besson has riding on his new picture, he gives no sign of being perturbed when THR sits down with him in mid-May in the rather impersonal, two-room suite he maintains several floors above his high-tech studio just north of Paris, La Cite du Cinema. (It has an accompanying film school, L’Ecole de la Cite.) This is where Besson spends most of his time when he’s not at home in Beverly Hills, where he has lived for the past three years with his producer-wife, Virginie Besson-Silla, and their three children, ages 11 to 16.

Relaxed in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, music wafting from his iPad, the filmmaker is expansive when talking about his family and personal life, but more reticent when it comes to addressing the business aspects of his career and company, EuropaCorp, in which he’s the largest shareholder. Perhaps that’s because, after years of success, EuropaCorp will post a loss of $136 million in 2016, just a few weeks after our meeting, the result of such misfires as Nine Lives, Shut In and Miss Sloane. Besson leaves talk of business to his company’s CEO, Marc Shmuger.

“EuropaCorp experienced significant losses this past year,” acknowledges Shmuger. “Over the course of the past year, we took necessary measures to strengthen the company’s treasury position. These measures include restructuring our first and second lien debt, a new capital raise from [Chinese production and distribution firm] Fundamental and sales of noncore assets [among them, theaters in Paris].”

They also include bringing in outside financiers to defray some of the cost of Valerian, whose downside already has been covered, he says, thanks to $30 million in French subsidies, outside equity and presales, reducing EuropaCorp’s investment to about 10 percent of the total budget.

The company signed a three-year exclusive (in the U.S.) distribution and marketing services pact with STX in early 2017 after extricating itself from a problematic joint venture with Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media. In leaving Relativity, it tightened its focus, going from an original plan to have up to 12 domestic releases per year to about four — all at much lower budgets than that of Valerian.

Those projects include another Taxi sequel, a follow-up to Lucy (possibly starring Scarlett Johansson again) and such European productions as Kursk (with Matthias Schoenaerts, Colin Firth and Lea Seydoux) and the horror film Underground (with Ben Kingsley and Peter Franzen).

It is for this prodigious output — and for his willingness to risk so much — that THR has named Besson its International Producer of the Year.

When did you start working on Valerian?

When I did The Fifth Element 20 years ago, the designer Jean-Claude Mezieres was saying, “Why are you not doing Valerian? Why are you doing this stupid Fifth Element thing?” I said, “Because [Valerian] is impossible.” But then, little by little, the technique went up. I started to write, and I wrote for a couple of years just to see: Was it good enough? Was it worthwhile enough? And then it came to maturation.

How much of your own money is in the film?

My entire salary. [The budget is] not my money, but at the last minute, the financing fell short, so they asked me, “Can you put your entire salary in?” And I said yes.

When you saw Avatar, you threw away the Valerian script. Why?

Because it wasn’t good enough. Avatar was on such a [high] level that [I thought], “You’re not qualified. Go back to training,” like with the Olympic Games. You can’t go and ask for $180 million [without being ready].

Did you discuss Valerian with James Cameron?

He invited me on the set of Avatar in L.A. because I said, “I’m writing something sci-fi,” and he said, “Come and see how it’s working.” Being there, in the middle of the factory with nothing, and seeing the world on the screen — he took me for a moron at the beginning, because it was kind of complicated for me to understand. He looked at me like, “This moron doesn’t understand anything.” I don’t have a computer. I have this, an iPad, with music. Then we went for lunch, and I asked him a lot of questions, and he gave me some tips. He was such a gentleman, so secure. You know, the people who are secure are generous.

Are you secure?

Yes. Now. A little bit. But the first few years, you’re like, “Grrrrr.” You’re going to bite anyone who comes close to you.

When did you first realize you wanted to make films?

My parents worked [as SCUBA teachers] at Club Med, so I was watching shows every night. I started to write at 13, to take pictures at 14. It just came to me, like some people love baseball — me, it was photography and writing. I built my skills without noticing. Later, I said: “Hmm, movies, that’s probably a good way of expressing for me because I’m not good at anything [else].”

Was there a particular film that influenced you?

I never fell in love with films because I was not watching films at all. [After his parents split up] I had a stepfather who didn’t want TV and music at home; he didn’t want any way of expressing art in the house. He was working on Formula One, so it was all about cars. I was kind of frustrated.

Did you ever want to be anything other than a filmmaker?

When I was 16, I wanted to study dolphins, because I was in love with dolphins. And I got in a diving accident and the doctor told me, “You will never dive again.” This guy broke me in two. He didn’t even realize what he had done because that was my life, diving, dolphins. And the day he said “forget about it” [was as if] basically you want to be a dancer and then you have no feet. I was very desperate. It was my worst moment. You’re 16, you’re in boarding school, and you’re broken by this doctor. I was really, really down. I remember asking myself, “What are you going to do with your life?” I took a piece of paper and I put a line down the middle, and on the left I said what I loved and on the right what I hated.

What did you love and what did you hate?

I can’t remember exactly. But when I read the left column, I realized almost everything was artistic. And it was the first time I said, “Wow, maybe cinema could be good.” And then a friend of a friend was shooting a short film in Paris, and I took the train and went there. And I arrived on the set and fell in love. I stayed two days, I slept on the set to keep an eye on the material, and I went back home to see my mom. I said, “I know what I’m going to do.” And the day after, I came down to breakfast with my suitcase and I said, “I’m leaving.”

Leaving home?

Yeah. Home and school. I came back from the set on a Sunday night, and on the Monday morning I went back to Paris. A friend [put me up] for a few nights. Then I was going from apartment to apartment, living on the couch, eating what was in the fridge — and usually on set they’d always have food. You eat twice a day and then you sleep. I really loved it. But the more you see on a set, the more you see other layers. You think it’s just a door, but no, after the door there are two other doors. I was so naive, I had no [frame of] reference, but I was not blocked by anything. I was like a kid who is not afraid of dogs and puts his hand in their mouths, you know? And I did my first short film 12 months later. I started my first long feature film at 19 [The Last Battle, about humans in a post­apocalyptic world]. I turned 20 years old during the shooting. Sometimes we were shooting on the weekend — because when [the studios] have a big film shooting, they don’t shoot on the weekend, so you take the [equipment] and put it back on Sunday night. We did films with nothing, nothing. I was asking my mom to prep food for the team, because I couldn’t pay for the lunch. She’s a very good cook, so they were happy.

Did you ever study film?

No. But when I arrived in Paris at 17, I didn’t have a lot of money, and there was a [bookstore] just for films, near the Champs-Elysees [with anything that] you wanted to find on movies or how to make a script. And I stayed for hours and bought [a film industry version of the Yellow Pages], which was the most practical thing to get. Then I still had 20 francs in my hand, and I said to the girl, “For four bucks, do you have a little something I can buy?” She said, “In this big basket, there are used books.” I took a very small book, a treatise on directing [Notes of a Film Director]. I studied it, and it was quite complicated. I liked the book very much. What I didn’t know was that the writer was [Russian master Sergei] Eisenstein. And the treatise was very pragmatic and simple and clear, which is exactly what I needed at the time. So my basis is Eisenstein.

Do you watch films a lot now?

No. Cooking and eating are not the same job. My job is cooking.

Are there any filmmakers you particularly admire?

Actually, almost all of them, because it’s a hard job. Every time you feel the heart of the guy, I like it. What I don’t like is when you feel the studio too much and you don’t feel the guy. There are a couple of Marvels where I don’t feel the guy. The films are pretty good, but I don’t know who cooked them.

Are you friends with other filmmakers?

I am very friendly with them. I say “friendly” because I don’t see them enough. There’s a couple that I see: Ridley Scott sometimes, Darren Aronofsky. But I can’t say I am friends with them. What’s interesting is, I’ve never felt a [sense of] competition with any director. Never. The directors’ family is very, very friendly. I have a funny story: I had a film, I don’t remember [which one] but I was in New York, and I saw the poster [outside] the theater. There were two screens, and my film was playing [in the theater next to] a Pedro Almodovar film. I went in, just to smell the ambience, just for curiosity. And I opened the door and Pedro Almodovar bursts in. I said, “Oh, my God, Pedro, what are you doing here?” He was doing the same thing as me. We were laughing so much.

You’ve avoided working in the Hollywood studio system. Do they come after you?

I’ve received a script per week for 20 years. I’ve never stayed away from Hollywood. I always answer very politely, and I’m very honored. But no one comes with an Amadeus or something that I would love to do. When I do La Femme Nikita, they send me all the Nikitas — three, four, five. When I do Leon, they send me four Leons. When I do The Fifth Element, they send me all the sci-fi. That’s not interesting to me. I mean, if someone gave me Raging Bull, I would be thrilled.

The Fifth Element seems more of a success today than when it came out. Why?

Maybe the film at the time was too weird. Twenty years ago, there was no internet. And the film was wild. It was not conventional. The hero who saved the world [was] a girl with orange hair who doesn’t speak English. A classical singer extraterrestrial in space. It’s like, what the f— is this thing?

What do you do outside filmmaking?

The biggest thing is writing, in the morning. I love that. If I don’t write for a few days, I feel bad. I’m nervous and I’m not agreeable with people. It’s my gym.

Do you read a lot as well as write?

No, I don’t. Except scripts. I can’t concentrate on a book. You start the book and the guy is talking about a garden — and after two pages, I’m in the garden of my grandmother, and I think about my grandmother and that’s it, I’m out. For me, a book is a house without walls. I get in, and I can’t get out. And that’s what I love about film: You have to follow the thing; you can’t go backward or forward.

Do you enjoy producing as much as directing?

It’s not the same job. Producing is being on the bench and screaming to the players on the field, “Faster!” (Laughs.) Being a director is painful. It’s the hardest job, because you’re responsible for everything, you have people asking you questions every three seconds. You have to manage the emotional DNA of everyone on the set, especially the actors. You have to be the general of an army. And then you’re in the editing room. And you see an image of your film that is not your film, and when you’ve finished, you push the film out to the press, who most of the time kill you. It’s a hell of a job.

What makes a good producer?

I don’t know if I’m a good producer. Because a good director makes a good film, even with a bad producer. A producer is really at the service of the director, understands the qualities of the director and maybe the bad parts, and can tell him, “No, you are lying to yourself here.”

What’s the worst part of being a director?

You need to have an extra sensitivity, permanently, from the morning to the end of the day. It’s almost like you take your skin out and people are touching you all day. I remember going back to the hotel at 10 p.m. and watching TV, and they were talking about the opening of a salon of flowers, and you see some old people going there — and I’m crying. It’s terrible. And it’s terrible because you take the skin out and then every morning you put on armor, because you need both. You need to be absolutely nonsensitive. You need to be a general of an army and at the same time, if a flower [touches] your arm, you scream. It’s painful. And honestly, every time you start to film, you remember that. You say, “All right, OK, I’m going to make the film,” and you take the decision, you accept the pain. You never go, “Oh, my God, it’s going to be great! We’re going to do a film!” You know it’s going to be painful.

This story first appeared in the July 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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'Valerian' Features 2,355 Visual Effects Shots, 600 More Than 'Rogue One'


From new alien species to a crab monster to a space station, the $180 million movie includes motion-capture performances and a luxury spacecraft designed in collaboration with Lexus.

The last time Luc Besson made a sci-fi film (1997’s The Fifth Element), it cost $90 million and contained 250 special effects shots, including Bruce Willis’ famous flying taxicab. Now, 20 years later, he has spent twice as much on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but for nearly 10 times the eye candy, with a whopping 2,355 visual effects shots, some 600 more than Rogue One.

“We were filming basically every day in front of a bluescreen,” says actress Cara Delevingne. “Out of six months, only two weeks were under normal circumstances.”

Effects include a 500-floor, cavern-like alien marketplace; a crab monster called a Megaptor; a space station known as Alpha; and a luxury spacecraft, the Lexus Skyjet, designed with the help of real-life Lexus engineers. There’s also a slew of new alien species, including the snout-nosed Doghans, the giant Bromosaur and a 7-foot-tall, human-ish CG creature named Igor Siruss, voiced by John Goodman.

But it’s the Pearls — an ethereal, willowy, semitransparent race — who play a crucial part in the story. “They live an idealistic life that’s horribly interrupted by a space battle,” explains Martin Hill, a VFX supervisor at New Zealand-based Weta, which did many of the film’s effects (Industrial Light & Magic and Rodeo FX were among the other contributors).

The Pearls are based on motion-capture performances, but “Luc wanted something even more alien,” says Hill. “So there’s augmentation to them. Their eyes are further apart and tilted, and their temples are sunk in. The less human you go, the more subjective beauty is; it was an interesting line to make sure we kept them beautiful.” Delevingne adds: “All of them [playing the Pearls] were friends. A lot are models whom I’ve worked with.” The Pearls also have a unique way of expressing themselves. “Luc wanted them to emote in different ways,” says Hill. “He wanted them to change color or have patterns rolling over their bodies.”

At least one effect in Valerian, however, isn’t new. Watch the film carefully, advises Hill, and maybe you’ll catch a brief shot of Willis’ flying taxi.

This story first appeared in the July 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.



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'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets': What the Critics Are Saying


THR’s Todd McCarthy writes, “The Razzies don’t need to wait until the end of the year to anoint a winner for 2017,” but some critics found more to like about Luc Besson’s sci-fi epic.

Are the reviews for Luc Besson’s Valerian out of this world?

The adaptation of the French comic Valerian et Laureline stars Dane DeHaan as the adventurer Valerian and Cara Delevingne as his partner Laureline, who find themselves on an enormous space station called Alpha, home to thousands of species.

Valerian, which opens July 21 opposite of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, is considered a big gamble for Besson, who has dreamed of making the film for decades, back to his The Fifth Element Days. (He has maintained the financial risk to his EuropaCorp is minimal, thanks to foreign pre-sales.) Sizzle reels and trailers at conventions around the country over the past year have wowed with their effects, but according to reviews out Monday, the dazzling 3D isn’t enough to win over many critics.

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy has a lot to say about the film, but really, the first paragraph of his reivew sort of says it all: “The Razzies don’t need to wait until the end of the year to anoint a winner for 2017. The Golden Turkey Awards should be republished with a new cover. Euro-trash is back, while sci-fi will need to lick its wounds for a while. Dane DeHaan, who has starred in two of the most egregiously bloated misfires of the year with A Cure for Wellness and now this, should do a couple of indie films, while Cara Delevingne needs to learn there is more to acting than smirking and eye-rolling. Rihanna should pretend this never happened. And the Hollywood studio chiefs can breathe easy that, this time, at least, they’ll escape blame for making a giant summer franchise picture that nobody wants to see, since this one’s a French import.”

Things weren’t any kinder at the New York Daily News, where Stephen Whitty writes, “the movie itself is a big, black hole.” He acknowledges Besson has fun with the effects, but ultimately, “the movie is its own empty rocket ship, piloted by a giddy teenage boy and a crew of two sullen children, slowly creeping its way toward airless oblivion. It never stops for a minute, yet it never goes anywhere.”

David Ehrlich at IndieWire praises the impressive setting of Alpha, but notes that’s far from being able to save the film: “Alpha is a miraculous place, a Wonderland in orbit, but this incredible world is desperately in search of a story worth its sights. Besson’s film is mesmerizing as long as Valerian and Laureline keep digging towards the center, diving through massive computer circuits and stealing parasites off the backs of giant alien scallops in their quest towards the big nothing at the end of the tunnel, but the vividness of this place only underscores the lifelessness of the people leading us through it.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty didn’t pull any punches in his review, writing, “During the film’s intoxicating first 30 minutes, for example, I couldn’t decide whether what I was watching was brilliantly bonkers or total folly. Then, as the story went on, it came into sharper and sharper focus: Valerian is an epic mess.”

Nashawaty praises the film’s “breathtaking” opening montage and first half hour, but finds DeHaan’s performance lacking, writing his take on Valerian has “all the charisma and energy of a narcoleptic about to nod off.”

For Nashawaty, DeHaan poses the biggest problem for the film. “The movie is cast badly. Both DeHaan and — to a lesser degree — Delevingne are all wrong,” he says.

And although he gives Besson credit for not playing it safe, Nashawaty writes, “Valerian and Besson strain so hard to sizzle your retinas and knock you out with the film’s oddness that it eventually becomes numbing — and then just exhausting.”

Not everyone was left cold by the film, however. Cinemablend’s Eric Eisenberg finds that, although “some elements just don’t work as they really should” – such as the chemistry between the leads and a somewhat bloated second half –  the film is still a “spectacle of the summer.” 

In short, he writes, “It’s visually stunning, beautifully prescient in its humanist themes (alien-ist too, I suppose?), and while its reach doesn’t match its grasp in some respects, you’re still left respecting the hell out of the reach alone.”

Forbes‘ Scott Mendelson goes so far as to call the film “a dazzling delight.” Praising the special effects, he compares the feel of the film to other sci-fi classics such as Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Unlike Eisenberg, Mendelson calls the chemistry between DeHaan and Delevingne “terrific,” although he finds issue with the decision to separate the characters for a large portion of the film. However, he writes, “In an era of recycled and/or nostalgia-driven IP, Valerian is the sort of ‘new to movies’ franchise that deserves to live long and prosper.”



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Luc Besson Unveils Exclusive 'Valerian' Footage at CineEurope


Four scenes from the biggest independent film of all time, due out next month, were shown in Barcelona.

With roughly a month before the official release of his biggest film to date, not to mention the biggest independent film of all time, Luc Besson used the first day of CineEurope to drum up further excitement for his space opera Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. 

Taking the stage for the first session of the trade show in Barcelona, some three years after he last attended to unveil his studio EuropaCorp’s “unexpected success” Lucy, the flamboyant French filmmaker unveiled four exclusive 3D scenes from the $200 million budget film, which he said was seven years in the making. 

“I’m very happy today – I finished the film!” he excitedly told the audience, adding that he’d discovered the comic book Valerian as a 10-year-old and had instantly fallen in love with the female lead Laureline. 

After a high-octane opening, introducing the two main characters, played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, Besson joked that Valerian was “clearly a very French, intellectual film.”

Comparing the film to his last major sci-fi, The Fifth Element, Besson said that the 1997 hit contained 188 special effects shots. “This has 2,734,” he laughed, adding that some 2,300 people had worked on the film.

“It’s two hours, nine minutes long, but with the credits about three hours and 20.”

Following the exclusive footage, Besson said goodbye, concluding, “See you in space soon.”

Valerian will hit theaters domestically on July 21. 



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Luc Besson Calls French Presidential Candidate Marine Le Pen a "Scammer"


In a lengthy post, the ‘Valerian’ director called the far-right candidate out on her policies ahead of the May 7 election.

Outspoken director Luc Besson penned a lengthy screed titled “The Grand Illusion” hitting out at far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen has made it to the second round of voting and will face off against independent centrist Emmanuel Macron on May 7.

The election has been closely followed by the world’s media because of Le Pen’s isolationist rhetoric which calls for France to leave the EU, ditch the euro currency and close the French borders while kicking out immigrants. The first round of voting completely knocked out the traditional Republican and Socialist parties, creating not only a political earthquake in France but the latest tremor in global populism.

In a lengthy Facebook post underneath a photo of the director posing with his French identity card, Besson called Le Pen a “scammer,” and urged French voters to dismiss her campaign.

It’s an unusual move that could alienate fans, as in France celebrities usually remain tight-lipped about politics and don’t engage in American-style campaigning.

The Valerian director posted the essay addressed to “compatriots, friends and brothers” and said voters are being manipulated by easy promises.

“Sentimental folks, yearning for ideals, strung along by fine words, tired of believing, revolted by unkept promises,” he wrote, saying the French are “weakened, disillusioned, an easy prey.”

“We are the scammed,” he wrote.

He went on to examine the National Front’s legacy and that of Marine’s father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen saying that the “family business [is] trading in fascism, racism and xenophobia.” He recalled National Front’s more violent days when foreign youths were attacked and one was killed after being thrown in the Seine.

Marine Le Pen ousted her father, a longtime Holocaust denier, from the party in 2011 and has since set out to soften the image of both herself and the party.

“However, the devil is the devil and when he pretends to change it’s to abuse us better,” he wrote.

Besson noted that the younger Le Pen now presents herself as the candidate of the people even though she grew up in a wealthy Parisian suburb and has never held a job outside of politics.

“She is, in reality, the perfect representative of the Establishment she denounces, living off handouts from Brussels, and exploiting the system in every possible way to her advantage,” he wrote.

“How can you claim to be the “candidate of the people” without ever working for or with the people? And how can you declare your opposition to the “system” while milking it for all it’s worth for decades?”

Besson noted that campaign funds are paid for by the French government, unlike private fundraising in the United States and said the party profits off of inflated campaign expenses, taking money from the taxpayers. The Front National is little more than a branding and PR stunt for the family to profit, he said.

The Europacorp founder wrote that it’s his job to tell stories, but he never claims they are real.

“The film Ms. Le Pen has put together for us is just awful. The script doesn’t make sense and it has terrible actors playing not just the lead but also the supporting roles … Ms. Le Pen gets the basics all wrong—in a real situation, she delivers zero truth. Her eyes are devoid of love, compassion or emotion. Her performance is embarrassing,” he wrote. “The audience doesn’t interest her. She just wants to make sure she has top billing.”

He said her isolationist policies will only exacerbate the country’s high unemployment rate and said her plan to leave the EU and close the borders is a path to war.

“When and where in history has turning in on oneself had positive results? Never. Withdrawal brings isolation. Isolation leads to totalitarianism. Totalitarianism spawns fascism. Fascism results in war. Five thousand years of history are there as proof, and the little Saint-Cloud heiress cannot change history.”

Besson closed by asking French people to vote against National Front and Le Pen.

“Let’s look after our country, let’s open up, let’s transcend ourselves, and let’s show the snake oil sellers that they have no place among us. Let’s show the rest of the world what it really means to be French. We are an open, courageous and fraternal people that has no need of two-bit ideology to get by. A great people grows even greater by supporting and reaching out to others.”

He concluded: “The world is watching. History is waiting.”



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Luc Besson's 'Valerian' Won't Screen in Cannes


The director tells THR that a trip to the Croisette was never on the cards for his big-budget sci-fi epic despite chatter that it could debut there.

Anyone hoping to catch Luc Besson’s big-budget Valerian at Cannes this year is going to be left disappointed.

The hotly anticipated sci-fi epic, starring Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan, had been among the major titles tipped to make a Croisette appearance, but Besson has revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that it was never on the cards. 

“I’m finishing the film end of May, beginning of June,” the director said, speaking on the sidelines of the Empire Awards in London, where he won the inspiration award. “We never even thought about Cannes, because we’re releasing in July. I opened Cannes with The Fifth Element, but usually when you do that you open right after, the day after, and May to July is way too far. Even if we were ready we wouldn’t go.”

Comparing The Fifth Element to Valerian, Besson said that his 1997 hit had 188 special-effects shots, while his latest film has 2,734. 

“I’m so happy that I’m a much better director now. I was a young director then, it was more than 20 years ago. I know my job much better, my relations with actors and everything,” he added. “I’m so thrilled that I did Valerian now. I know much more, but I’m not too old.”



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Luc Besson's Sci-Fi Epic 'Valerian' Moving to STX in Multi-Year Deal


STX and EuropaCorp have entered a three-year deal that will allow the former to release ‘The Circle,’ ‘Their Finest’ and ‘Renegades’ in 2017.

Luc Besson’s big-budget sci-fi epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is moving to another galaxy, and will now be released by STX Entertainment, along with several other EuropaCorp films.

STX and EuropaCorp USA have entered into a three-year agreement for STX to provide theatrical marketing and distribution services for EuropaCorp’s upcoming motion picture releases in the U.S.

Along with Besson’s film, STX will release The Circle, starring Tom Hanks, Emma Watson and John Boyega, and directed by James Ponsoldt; Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest, a romantic comedy-drama set in World War II Great Britain starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin and Bill Nighy; and Renegades, a heist adventure written by Luc Besson and Richard Wenk and directed by Steven Quale, starring Sullivan Stapleton and J.K. Simmons.

A statement from Adam Fogelson, chairman, Motion Picture Group, STX Entertainment, said: “Luc Besson is a visionary entrepreneur, storyteller and filmmaker and we are enormously excited to be working with him and his entire team releasing Europacorp’s slate of motion pictures in the United States. Additionally, Marc Shmuger is not only a gifted executive but a friend to many in our company. Together we’ve enjoyed great successes in the past, and we all share a marketing shorthand that will make this an especially potent partnership.”

Valerian was produced and financed by Besson’s EuropaCorp and was slated to be released by RED, EuropaCorp’s and Relativity Media’s joint venture. But the upheaval at Relativity over the past year, including the recent exit of Dana Brunetti as president and Ryan Kavanaugh’s decision to step back at the company, has left RED in a troubled state.


The film, a longtime passion project for Besson with a reported budget of at least $180 million, stars Dane DeHaan as the time-traveling hero Valerian and Cara Delevingne as his love interest and partner, Laureline. Ethan Hawke, Clive Owen and John Goodman also star in the adaptation of a 1960s-era French comic book.

“We can’t wait to get started on this partnership with our friends at STX,” said a statement from Besson. “I worked with Adam when he championed Lucy at Universal, and I have great faith in him and the marketing and distribution team.”

STX’s recent films include comedies The Edge of Seventeen and Bad Moms, along with Free State of Jones and the upcoming sci-fi film The Space Between Us.




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'Valerian': Watch the First Trailer for Luc Besson's Sci-Fi Epic


The film stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne.

Luc Besson is ready to take moviegoers to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

The filmmaker has debuted the first trailer for his adaptation of the 1960s-era French comic book. The film earned major buzz at San Diego Comic-Con for its eye-popping visuals.

The film stars Dane DeHaan as the time-traveling hero Valerian and Cara Delevingne as his love interest and partner, Laureline. For Besson, it’s been a long journey. He’s been a fan of the material since he was 10 and has dreamed of making a movie about the film since 1997’s The Fifth Element. But movie technology wasn’t there yet.

“When I saw Avatar for the first time, I took the script for Valerian and threw it in the garbage,” he told reporters at New York Comic Con. “It was not of that level. It’s like you watched Usain Bolt and thought, ‘OK, I’m not going to go into the Olympics. … I want to be behind Usain Bolt, but I want him to look at me. I was depressed — happy for [James Cameron], but depressed for me. But I’m happy now, because it’s better. I was right to throw it out.”

The trailer features The Beatles song “Because,” which is the first time a non-cover track from the legendary band has ever been licensed for use in a trailer. 

There are some fantastical aliens in this clip — but don’t get too attached to them. On Thursday, Besson participated in a Facebook Live chat to debut the trailer, where he revealed that in the sequel to the film, new aliens will be featured.

ICYMI: IMDb’s Arno Kazarian was live with Luc Besson and Valerian to introduce you to the world of #Valerian with the teaser debut! You can watch the teaser now on IMDb: http://imdb.to/2fFN6Ui


Posted by IMDb on Thursday, November 10, 2016

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opens July 21, 2017.



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'Valerian' Mobile and Web Games to Be Created by Spil Games


The strategy game will explore the back story to Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi movie.

Spil Games, the Netherlands-based mobile games publisher, has been selected to create the official mobile and web game for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, director Luc Besson’s upcoming sci-fi epic.

Valerian, the $180 million film from Besson’s EuropaCorp, is scheduled to open stateside on July 21, and Spil Games plans to launch a strategy game tied to the film a few weeks before that.

“Spil Games impressed us with their vision and understanding of the world of Valerian,” Valerian producer Virginie Besson-Silla said in making the announcement. Added Besson, the game will use “the movie’s back story to create what will be a completely immersive universe for players.”

“People are talking about this film as the spiritual successor to The Fifth Element,” commented Spil Games CEO Tung Nguyen-Khac. “I believe we can really intensify the audience experience around the themes and ideas within the movie. It’s no longer enough to make a game that just mimics the movie. Players want to dig further into the story but the game also has to be cool and fun to play in its own right.”

Spil Games reports that it has racked up 100 million mobile installs since July 2015 and that it has 120 million monthly active users across native, mobile and web gaming. 

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planetsis based on the popular comic stories Valérian and Laureline created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres in 1967.

Striker Entertainment, EuropaCorp’s licensing agency, brokered the partnership with Spil Games’ Nguyen-Khac and Victor Horbach, vp, corporate development.



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