Luc Besson is nothing if not ambitious and Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets is his most ambitious feature yet, but I am concerned.
The movie, based on a French comic book written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières, is likely unfamiliar to most Americans, which is likely why the director spends quite a bit of time in the trailer telling the viewer what it is they’re going to see, and what it’s based on.
If I were promoting the movie in the United States I’d bypass the origins of the characters–which domestic audiences are likely unaware –and instead concentrate on two things:
Valerian appears to be visually spectacular, as if Besson took the visual esthetic of The Fifth Element and combined it with Star Wars and Avatar. Movies are all about diversion and this is an aspect that–in promotional materials–needs to be played up (it goes without saying that he movie itself will hopefully have a story that matches the visuals) even more than it is in this trailer.
Promise a visual experience like no other. And sure, it’s likely not to be the case –I have seen few, if any, movies to actually live up to such hype–but it doesn’t stop movies from saying it, so Valerian might as well do the same.
Valerian cost somewhere between $170-200 million dollars to produce and while I expect it will perform strongest in Europe (where familiarity with the source material is likely greater) I wouldn’t discount it doing well in most international markets.
How well it does domestically depends upon when it is released, and perhaps more importantly, what it is released against. It it performs (domestically) like Universal’s The Mummy, which had Wonder Woman to content with, then it had better do as well as that movie did internationally (despite not starring an actor with the international pull of a Tom Cruise) or there might be troubles for EuropaCorp (Besson’s production company, though the movie is released domestically via STX.).
Though if Valerian has a month or so alone (and there’s no Spider-Man: Homecoming waiting in ambush) competing with smaller releases it’s likely to do just fine.