Besson began by taking his presentation to Cannes, where he knew a lot of the distributors. "We came with 80 drawings on the big screen. We showed all the designs. I told the entire story, and they could read the script and make an offer," Besson says. "We sold almost $80 million of presale in a day", said Besson. "We have the freedom to do what we want to do and not be guided by financiers and marketing teams. Or else in the end you don't make the movie that you wanted."
Adam Fogelson, chairman of STX Entertainment, was also on hand to comment, saying, "He pieced together a financing structure that would allow him to make the movie without-I'll choose my words carefully-the weight of major--studio executives who, rightly if they had invested that amount of money, would feel the need to manage the process along with the filmmaker".
Along with financing, the other obstacle was the sheer size of this project in terms of the story and adapting it in the right way. According to the WIRED article, Besson put together binders for the actors, which were comprised of biographies for Valerian and Laureline as well as dozens of secondary characters. He also wrote about the centuries-long history of Alpha, a 12-mile-wide space station that's home to 17 million, most of them aliens. Besson said he did it "so when the actors arrived, they had a package with all that. That's their homework. Honestly, none of this information will ever be used in the film. But when you tell them, ‘You're in headquarters on Alpha,' they know exactly what it means."
After 7 years of writing and prep, 100 days of shooting, $180 million dollars, and 20 months of postproduction, Valerian is finally complete. The cast includes Cara Delevingne, Dane DeHaan, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu, Rutger Hauer and John Goodman.
Valerian will premier on July 21, 2017.
Wired Magazine contributed to this article.