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Luc Besson’s New Sci-Fi Blockbuster ‘Valerian’ ‘Financed Like an Indie’

Cara Delevingne in ‘Valerian’/Image © STX Entertainment

Editor's Note:

It’s a real mixed bag in today’s Daily Blunt as we’re taking you from the fiscal finesse of ‘Valerian’ to Swan Lake with a few stops in between. Get it read here!

It costs a lot to create visions on the scale of Luc Besson’s, but not as much as you think. A behind-the-camera article by WIRED reveals that the director’s most impressive tricks in adapting this graphic novel into the movie “Valerian” have nothing to do with CGI – rather, it’s his financial structure that filmmakers will likely be copying for decades. “It may be a huge, tentpole-scale movie, but it’s financed like an indie,” the article observes. “All the deals, the presales, and tax benefits and so on, mean that Besson is only exposed to a fraction of the risk. And he didn’t have to pitch an expensive science fiction movie with largely unknown source material to a conservative, franchise-drunk studio.” That means no notes, reshoots, or other forms of creative interference, which is how you end up with something truly timeless. “Valerian” opens in the U.S. on July 21.

Superhero comics were revolutionized over the past couple years by the surprise hit Spider-Gwen, which imagines an alternate timeline in which Gwen Stacy (and not Peter Parker) was bitten by that radioactive spider. Things get a lot more meta in the newer series Gwenpool, which sees a young woman named Gwen Poole getting sucked into her favorite comic book universe, an adventure the AV Club describes as “an engaging, emotional story about a young superhero superfan struggling to find her place in the world.” Pro tip for freshening up a time-honored medium: Just add Gwen.

When Maurice Sendak died in 2012, he left behind an impressive body of work — albeit an incomplete one, as a previously unpublished Sendak book, entitled Presto and Zesto in Limboland, is headed our way in 2018. The lost book was found deep in the author’s archives; it was co-authored by Arthur Yorinks, a close friend and collaborator. In the case of Presto and Zesto, they ended up creating a story to connect ten illustrations Sendak had made in 1990 “to accompany a London Symphony Orchestra performance of Leoš Janáček’s Rikadia, a 1927 composition that set Czech nursery rhymes to music.”

Here’s another unlikely adaptation from the fine arts: Felicity Jones is set to star in a big-screen version of “Swan Lake,” sans ballet. It’s unclear at this point exactly what this could look like, especially since Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” covered this territory from a horror-inspired angle as recently as 2010. Will it be a more literal retelling of the ballet’s central fairy tale? Variety claims the story will be used “as the centerpiece for a major studio tentpole,” which could mean almost anything. Dig into the fascinating history of this ballet here; for example, Tchaikovsky is believed to have composed the entire masterpiece over the course of just one year.