‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets’ Passes China Censorship

Scoring a China release will be crucial for the most expensive independently financed movie in history to recoup its investment.

Luc Besson’s sci-fi movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, reportedly France’s biggest-budgeted production ever, has been approved for cinemas in China, according to sources familiar with the matter, but a release date has yet to be announced.

Securing a Chinese release for the massively expensive science-fiction epic will be a sorely needed win for struggling French studio EuropaCorp which has been plagued by a string of expensive flops in recent years, prompting a warning to investors in February that their losses will reach a record high this fiscal year.

With a reported production cost of US$180 million, Valerian is the most expensive independently financed movie in history. Global marketing and distribution costs are said to be as much as $100 million, so securing a Chinese bow will be crucial for recouping that investment.

News that the film has passed Chinese censors confirms what was already expected. China’s Fundamental Films acquired a 28 percent stake in EuropaCorp in late 2016 and the film also features uber-popular, Chinese-Canadian, former K-pop star Kris Wu as a key character. Besson himself has been plugging the movie on Weibo, China’s Twitter, for months.

Set in the 28th century, Valerian follows the eponymous hero played by Dane DeHaan and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) as they attempt to protect the 28th Century’s Terran Galactic Empire from time paradoxes and problems caused by errant time travelers. The series, created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres, debuted in the anthology magazine Pilote in 1967.

The film remains a big bet as neither North American nor Chinese audiences are particularly aware of the graphic novel on which the film is based. While a China release date has yet to be announced, the film is scheduled to be released worldwide on July 21, 2017, by EuropaCorp before being released in France on July 26, 2017.