×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian’ Draws Visual Effects Heavyweights (EXCLUSIVE)

Cult comic pic will use "any technique available" for its many aliens

It’s unusual nowadays for the backers of a tentpole film to announce the vfx studio or studios well in advance. Security considerations alone can trump such an announcement.

But “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is zigging where most of the industry zags. EuropaCorp, which is backing Luc Besson’s cult comic book adaptation, has named the three top vfx studios that will collaborate to create the picture’s futuristic look.

Weta Digital, Industrial Light & Magic and Rodeo FX are all on board for “Valerian.” Sophie Leclerc, who worked with Besson on “Lucy,” is visual effects producer. Scott Stokdyk is the overall vfx supervisor on the film. Joe Letteri, senior vfx supervisor for Weta, will be vfx supe for the New Zealand-based vfx giant.

Philippe Rebours is ILM’s visual effects supervisor on the film. Rebours, a veteran of genre films in the U.S. and France, was ILM’s vfx supervisor on “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” François Dumoulin is vfx supervisor for Rodeo. Dumoulin was Rodeo’s vfx supervisor on “Lucy” and his vfx supervisor credits since include “Fantastic Four,” “Cinderella” and Ron Howard’s period whaling epic, “In the Heart of the Sea.”

The French “Valerian and Laureline” comic books (pictured), written by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres, have a global following and have influenced many science fiction films since they were introduced in 1967. Besson discovered them when he was 10, says his producer and wife, Virginie Besson-Silla.

“The strength of the comicbooks is they were way ahead of their time,” says Besson-Silla, who is producing the film. “Mezieres and Christin had a futuristic vision and allowed so many things to happen in the story. Some of them are completely crazy, very modern.”

Weta’s Letteri said that after meeting with Besson and seeing the concept art for the picture, “I just loved the feeling of it and where he was going with it. We just wanted to get in there and do as much as we could.” Weta will be creating many of the alien creatures for the film. “Luc wants to shoot a lot of it live and get as much in camera as he can,” Letteri told Variety, “Where you can shoot it, great, especially if you can get interaction for your actors. You want the believability, and the grounding, and the realism as much as possible.” But there will be actors in performance-capture suits driving CG characters, and some aliens will be entirely keyframe-animated.

“There’s going to be no holding back on this one because everything Luc is trying to create has got such scope in every frame,” says Letteri. “We just have to use any technique available to us.”

ILM will be creating a single sequence for “Valerian,” a sequence everyone is keeping hush-hush for now, though Rebours calls it “really cool.” He says “When we were bidding, we received a lot of artwork that Luc and his team have been doing. Everyone here was really excited. It’s very challenging.”

Montreal-based Rodeo FX will create the enormous space station Alpha. “It’s almost a planet, made of multiple ships which have been connecting together over centuries, and tons of different civilizations have merged into one big station,” says Dumoulin. “It’s really not just one environment, it’s a combination of dozens of different environments piled on top of each other.”

Dumoulin says Rodeo has been doing previs on “Valerian” since December. “(Besson) knows exactly what he wants,” says Dumoulin. “When he gives you a turnover on a sequence, he already has a full picture and he’s not going to change his mind. It’s all there in his brain.”

Dane DeHaan has been cast as Valerian in “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Cara Delevingne is Laureline. The pair are agents for the Spatio-Temporal Service, which protects the planets of the Terran Empire. Clive Owen is also on board for the film, which Besson is also writing.

The pic is scheduled to start production in December and its release is dated for July 2017.

More Artisans

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

  • Todd Phillips

    Why 'Hangover' Director Todd Phillips Keeps Coming Back to His Favorite DP, Lawrence Sher

    “That’s my guy Larry,” says director Todd Phillips upon learning that Variety has selected his favorite DP, Lawrence Sher, as a billion-dollar cinematographer. The duo have worked together on a half dozen films, including all three installments of the “Hangover” franchise, “Due Date,” “War Dogs” and the upcoming “Joker,” with Joaquin Phoenix and Robert De [...]

  • Lawrence Sher Cinematographer

    Cinematographer Lawrence Sher Shoots Smash Comedies and Big Blockbusters Alike

    For cinematographer Lawrence Sher, the focus has always been on the director. That philosophy has carried Sher’s imagery to millions of filmgoers, including his latest work set to hit screens this year: “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” directed by Michael Dougherty, and “Joker,” directed by Todd Phillips, who has also collaborated with Sher on all [...]

  • Ridiculous Six

    Netflix Benefits From Changes in New Mexico's Production Incentives

    When New Mexico’s new governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, signed SB2 in late March, the headline was that it more than doubled the annual cap on the state’s 25%- to 30%-per-project refundable film and TV tax credit, from $50 million to $110 million.  Arguably more noteworthy, however, was the new law’s provision that the cap [...]

  • Home Again Trinidad and Tobago

    Trinidad and Tobago Attracts Producers by Adding Hefty Cash Incentive to Visual Lures

    A dual-island Caribbean nation that fits fulfills the all visual requirements of a tropical paradise, Trinidad and Tobago offers a striking variety of shooting locales ranging from azure waters, white sands, thick jungle, sprawling savannahs and – on the urban side – bustling cities. Though the islands have predominantly housed local films, they are now [...]

  • Netflix Our Planet Sophie Darlington

    Netflix's 'Our Planet' Roars to Life With Work by Top Wildlife Cinematographers

    In terms of scope, production time and — very likely — budget, Netflix’s “Our Planet” is one of the most ambitious projects from the streaming service to date. Narrated by David Attenborough and made available worldwide on April 5, the goal of the eight-part series is to capture diverse habitats across the globe and highlight [...]

  • Les Miserables BBC

    BBC's 'Les Miserables' Recreates the Dark World of Victor Hugo's Novel

    Director Tom Shankland didn’t want his “Les Miserables” to be anything like the stage-musical version of Victor Hugo’s sweeping historical novel, nor like the 2012 Tom Hooper feature-film musical.  For the BBC limited series — a drama starring Olivia Colman, Lily Collins, David Oyelowo and Dominic West, which aired the first of its six episodes in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content