The disastrous opening weekend in the U.S. of Luc Besson’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” has left EuropaCorp with a hangover, as the Paris-based company saw its stock value drop by 8.31% by the close of trading on Monday.
EuropaCorp’s stock price fell to 3.53 euros ($4.11) in the wake of “Valerian’s” performance at the U.S. box office over the weekend.
Believed to be the most expensive independent movie of all time with a budget of $180 million, “Valerian” grossed just $17 million from 3,553 theaters and landed in fifth place, behind “War for the Planet of the Apes,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Girls Trip” and Christopher Nolan’s World War II movie “Dunkirk,” which surpassed expectations and received glowing reviews.
“Valerian,” based on a French comic book series, stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne as a pair of futuristic, time-traveling crime fighters. Rihanna also stars.
Tim Westcott, senior analyst at London-based IHS, pointed out the risky strategy of first launching in the U.S. a film like “Valerian,” which is not a DC Comics or Marvel franchise and is based on an unknown property outside of Europe.
Aside from the U.S., the film has now opened in Canada, Israel and Germany, among other markets, but has yet to roll out in more than 100 territories, notably in France (July 26) and the U.K. (Aug. 2). The release in China, where it’s expected to be released on 9,000 screens, has been delayed.
But the fact that “Valerian” failed to click with U.S. audiences from the get-go is casting a shadow on the movie’s prospects.
“Previous EuropaCorp film such as ‘Taken’ and ‘Lucy’ have done well in the U.S. as well as worldwide. If ‘Valerian’ turns out to be a flop in the U.S., it will be very difficult to compensate in international markets considering the size of the budget,” said Westcott.
By comparison, “Lucy,” which cost $40 million to make, grossed $43.8 million during its opening weekend in the U.S. and went on to take $463 million worldwide.
Although EuropaCorp has a limited risk on “Valerian” – about 90% of the film’s budget was financed with pre-sales and equity investment, Besson says – it desperately needs the film to be hit as the company just posted record losses of 119.9 million euros ($135 million) for the fiscal year ending March 31.
A EuropaCorp spokesperson told Variety last month that the company has limited its exposure to less than $20 million on “Valerian” but is nevertheless “looking towards a significant performance from ‘Valerian’ in the hopes of creating the company’s newest franchise.”
“Valerian” has to make $400 million worldwide to help EuropaCorp climb into the black and justify a sequel, according to several financial analysts, including Pavel Govciyan, an analyst at Natixis.
“Valerian” was released in the U.S. by STX Films, which was hired by EuropaCorp in January to handle distribution and marketing for the movie after the collapse of Relativity Media, with which EuropaCorp had formed a joint distribution venture.
The timing of the release had reportedly been debated within the company, which considered pushing it back to August when there would be less competition. EuropaCorp’s decision to stick with the date was seen as a sign of confidence in the material.