When ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘ arrived in theaters this summer, its reception was decidedly mixed. Garnering a fairly tepid response from critics, the sci-fi epic went over like a lead balloon at the American box office, though it fared better internationally. Despite this state of affairs, director Luc Besson hasn’t given up on the prospect of a sequel.
Speaking with the Italian website Bad Taste ahead of the film’s (you guessed it) Italian premiere, Besson spoke on everything from the genesis of the project to the casting process and the possibility of future of ‘Valerian’ films. The director had this to say when asked about the prospect of a sequel:
“I value the Italian opinion. 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 number two already. So there’s a community for sure. So it’s positive.”
The question of sequels naturally led into a discussion of the film’s box office performance, which could generously be described as underperforming. Besson nevertheless remains optimistic, attributing some of the uncertainty to changes in the way the film industry decides such things:
“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 five or ten years ago. Because the people, the way they consume the film is different. Like people are not very busy, so they go to the cinema, but you stay on screen like three weeks. Before when I start my movies, you know, ‘Fifth Element’ or ‘Leon’, you stay twelve, fifteen, twenty weeks in theater and the rights for DVD or TV was like two years later. So people were going to the movies because they couldn’t see the film otherwise.”
Put another way, it’s not over until it’s over. Even assuming the worst about the prospect of more ‘Valerian’ films, Besson has never been shy about the fact that this film represented something of a passion project for him. With that in mind, it’s only natural that he’d want to keep the door open to revisit the property.
In any case, Besson makes clear in the interview that he’s waiting not only until the film finishes its global theatrical run, but until he has a chance to see how it performs on home video. Only then will he make a call regarding a sequel:
“Now, you stay on screen for like two or three weeks. You have the VOD very soon. You have the DVD, the TV… So sometimes people, they want to see a film and they 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.”
The full interview is available here: