Cara Delevingne, the UK model and socialite, said she cried with happiness when she landed a lead role in sci-fi film “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” But producers are crying now; the movie bombed. What went wrong?
Delevingne, 24, who is trying to segue into acting, landed the biggest role of her budding career with the $220 million indie film.
At the European premiere at London’s Leicester Square on Monday, she gushed about the experience.
“I don’t know what made me cry and drop my jaw to the floor more, watching this film or being asked by Luc Besson to star. I don’t know what’s going on,” she said.
But during its debut weekend, “Valerian” finished 5th with a measly $17 million box office gross worldwide.
In contrast, the No. 1 movie, Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic, “Dunkirk,” grossed a whopping $107.4 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo
“Girls Trip” finished at No. 2 with $31.2 million, followed by holdover ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming,” with $22.2 million, and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” with $20.8 million.
“Valerian’s” weak box office showing was a shocker, given the movie’s hype, Delevingne’s high tabloid profile, and video-game-like special effects.
That’s been a winning combination for films like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and the Marvel Universe films.
So where did “Valerian” go wrong? On it’s face, the movie had a lot going for it.
Director Luc Besson, is known for such film hits as “The Professional,” “The Fifth Element” and “Lucy.”
The movie was also based on a well-developed comic book series, “Valérian and Laureline.” Comic book movies have been almost guaranteed bank at the box office.
“Valerian” also had spectacular, video-game-level special effects.
But that’s where the similarities end.
While it’s based on a popular comic book series, the comic is published in France. Unlike Superman, Batman or The Avengers, the characters are virtually unknown in the United States.
Besson also deviated from his norm by hiring lesser-known actors.
For 2014 film “Lucy,” for example, he locked in two A-list actors,Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.
His 1994 film “The Professional,” featured Natalie Portman. And, Milla Jovovich powered “The Fifth Element.”
To play Valérian, he chose Dane DeHaan, an American actor who is known mostly for quirky indie roles, not action-adventure blockbusters.
While Delevingne is formidable eye-candy as Laureline, her acting resume is limited and her image trends a bit negative.
She’s known mostly for her tabloid profile–a rich, jet-setting English, socialite and model with a voracious sexual appetite for women.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it makes it hard to visualize her as a credible romantic lead, much less an action hero.
The movie scored an overall rotten 51 rating on rottentomatoes, which tracks reviews. Critics dissed her and DeHaan as well as the plot.
“A ripe visual adventure of limitless imagination hamstrung by an under-cooked plot propelled by lackluster heroes,” wrote New York Observer critic Thelma Adams, capturing that sentiment.
“Technology can’t generate verve — at least not yet — or the sort of chemistry that’s entirely absent in the pairing of these attractive performers,” wrote Joe Morganstern of The Wall Street Journal.
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone added: “It’s as gorgeous as anything the French filmmaker Luc Besson has ever made and as empty as a Trump tweet.”
Movies can often overcome bad reviews on the strength of the actors.
Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart turned the critically panned “Twilight” series into a box office smash.
But in the end, DeHaan and Delevingne are no Pattinson and Stewart.
“[Dehaan and Delevingne’s] chemistry is nonexistent, the dialogue is cringe worthy and the story is clunky… But the images are frequently extraordinary,” wrote Jake Coyle for The Associated Press.
For his part, Besson put Delevingne in the same league as Portman, Jovovich and Johansson. He was being generous, of course.
Delevingne said she’s in the game for keeps. “To be honest, acting is something I’ve wanted to do my entire life,” she said.
Maybe so, but acting isn’t modeling, and a career can only suffer so many bombs.
Delevingne needs more seasoning and an image overhaul before she can carry a major movie.
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