Valerian and the City of Planet Hollywood


My date (the cool girl I picked up at The Wulfshead, last Friday) and I were very, very, very lucky indeed, though we didn't know it at the time, to decide to go to the movie that night and be amongst the very few who got to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets in full XD 3D at the Howard Hughes Cinemark wide screen auditorium (THE ONLY PLACE IN TOWN, and apparently, as it turns out, also possibly the only day, THE MOVIE WAS ACTUALLY FEATURED IN 3D ON A WIDE SCREEN, at the time of its release.

You can still see the movie in 3D, but, for some strange and baffling reason, well beyond my comprehension (I don't know much about Hollywood politics), you won’t find it featured on a wide screen anywhere in LA, and, for all I know, in the rest of the country either.

If I were to be pressed to speculate about this, and formulate some kind of an opinion, my guess would be that the U.S. doesn’t care much about cities of a thousand planets, all it cares about is Planet America, but that’s just my unqualified opinion and perhaps I am making too much of this—with my date being such a Francophile and me such a great fan of the Valerian and Laureline comic series, and all. What do I know?

According to an interview with Luc Besson, dated November 2016, Valerian had been scheduled for some time already to be released in IMAX on the 21st of July, and then, apparently, Dunkirk (which was shot mostly in IMAX) coveted the same date on the calendar and Valerian got kicked out of the IMAX theaters, as a result. Dunkirk also secured a quasi-monopoly on all the wide-screen theaters too (like, from what we've been able to tell, Cinemark XD and Arclight WS).

When asked, at the time, in that same interview, whether he had considered moving the release of Valerian to an other date, Luc Besson explained that they chose the date two years ago and that the movie was set to be released not only in the U.S., but everywhere else in the world already: "You can’t move just because one director comes here. So we will go 21st of July no matter what. But we are in 3D, so we have a 3D version and RealD and IMAX everywhere else in the world."

That said, it is unfortunate, in this great country of ours, that the film couldn’t be given a fair chance and got deprived of being shown in the format that does it the most justice.

One would think that in America, out of all places, the entertainment industry would not be so suppressively reductionist.

Is it naive of me to believe the world is large and complex enough to afford people more of a choice and that there ought to be more to planet Hollywood than just black and white, or the false dilemma of being made to choose between apples and oranges, or between Nolan and Besson, two directors featuring two very different kinds of movies?

Scott Mendelson at Forbes, had this to say about it: