Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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  • Directed By: Luc Besson
  • Written By: Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières, Luc Besson
  • Release Date: July 21, 2017
  • Domestic Distributor: STX
  • Cast: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen
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Box Office Info:
Budget: $180 millionFinanced by: Europacorp; Fundamental Films; BNP Paribas; Orange; Universum Film; Gulf Film; River Road; Belga Films; TF1 Films
Domestic Gross: $40,479,370Overseas Gross: $184,684,740


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was introduced by Europacorp’s owner Luc Besson at Cannes in 2015 to kickstart pre-sales.  The budget for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was $180 million and the financing model would be no different than the usual Europacorp product — majority of the budget (around 80%) would come from international distributors.  Besson had developed strong relationships with distributors over the years, usually delivering Europacorp movies on time and on budget and Besson himself just mounted the international hit Lucy.  According to Besson, around $80 million of Valerian‘s markets were sold in one day.

Along with pre-sales to over 120 territories, Europacorp received a massive investment from China based Fundamental Films.  Fundamental contributed $50 million to the budget in return for a percentage of the film’s equity, along with China distribution and a few other markets.  Fundamental Films also acquired a 27.9% ownership EuropaCorp for $67 million.

Additional funding for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets came from BNP Paribas, Orange, Universum Film, Gulf Film, River Road Entertainment, Belga Films and TF1 Films.

US distribution was originally going to be handled by Europacorp’s stateside partner Relativity, but the company went bankrupt and the french mini-major landed a new partner from the up and coming distributor STX.  $60 million was allotted to STX for P&A expenses, with Europacorp backstopping the loan.  With Europacorp covering any stateside losses, STX is reportedly on the line for under $3 million.  It has also been reported that all other distributors are footing their own P&A spend on the film.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was dated for July 21, 2017 and would bow against Dunkirk and Girls Trip.  While its difficult to speculate if the picture would have performed better in a less crowded market, Valerian was not helped by mixed reviews, while trying to compete for a similar demo-graph with the spectacularly reviewed Dunkirk.  Also eating into Valerian‘s potential audience were War for the Planet of the Apes (released the previous weekend) and Spider-Man: Homecoming (released two weeks earlier).

Tracking was pointing to an opening near $20 million and it came in soft with $17,007,624 — placing #5 for the weekend led by Dunkirk and Girls Trip.  It also came in under both Apes and Spider-Man.  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets collapsed 62.6% the following weekend to $6,360,085 ending the slim chance it had at finding its audience.  It fell 62.3% in its third session to $2,395,377 and then lost most of its theater count.  The domestic run closed with $40,479,370.  After theaters take their percentage of the gross and STX’s distribution fees, Europacorp will be lucky to see back $20 million from the US theatrical run.

In its global rollout, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets pulled in a respectable $33 million from France and posted red ink for almost every other distributor that shelled out high prices during pre-sales.  After tanking in most markets, there were hopes that the China release would bail out the dreadful box office numbers.  Valerian pulled in $28.6 million, winning its opening frame, but then it sank 78% the following weekend.  The gross in China ended with $62.2 million.  The offshore cume stalled at $184.6 million.

After Valerian‘s disastrous global box office run, EuropaCorp’s Chief Executive Marc Shmuger stepped down from his role in the company.  EuropaCorp posted an $83.1 million half year loss, of which Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was the majority contributor to that red ink.  22 staffers at the Paris based company were laid off for cost saving measures because of this lousy movie.  After years of mounting debt that reached $251 million, Valerian severely damaged EuropaCorp and its ability to operate.  The EuropaCorp board mandated a new policy for their movies after the Valerian debacle, which would return the French company back to its roots of low to mid-budget action fare.  Besson’s next picture Anna was the first film greenlit under the board’s new directive and it was a box office dud.

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