It’s too early to say such, but so far it appears that Luc Besson may have just won 2016 Comic-Con. The French filmmaker came into Hall H this afternoon to unveil the first footage of his new science fiction film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and it appears early reaction is out of this world. Besson was joined on the panel by his wife and producing partner Virginie Besson-Silla and the film’s stars Dane DeHaan (Kill Your Darlings) and Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns). About seven minutes of footage was screened for Hall H attendees followed by a standing ovation from the crowd.
The story is a passion project for Besson, and marks the most expensive film yet from producer and distributor EuropaCorp, so stakes are fairly high here. Based on the influential French comic series Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières (created in the late 1960s and seminal work of science fiction that also served as an influence for George Lucas’ Star Wars), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets tells the story of operative Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevingne) whose duty is to maintain lawfulness throughout the universe. The eclectic ensemble cast also includes Clive Owen, John Goodman, Rutger Hauer, Ethan Hawke and Rihanna.
Besson has clearly been relishing putting this story to screen, as evidenced by his enthusiasm and the abundance of early peeks of the project he has made available on social media. For the Comic-Con fanbase, this project likely looked like a home run as well considering the aggressive fanbase of Besson’s early films which include cult hits The Fifth Element, Léon: The Professional and the recent Scarlett Johansson hit Lucy. Of course, an excited Comic-Con reaction means precious little outside the insular community as has been the case with many a Comic-Con hit (Besson also received the SDCC Inkpot Award this afternoon).
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is set to arrive in theaters on July 21, 2017.