There are two hundred different alien species in the movie. Luc Besson wrote a six hundred-page book describing in detail all the species. The actors had to read that book prior to filming so they could adjust their acting, depending on the species they were interacting with.
The Welcoming Captains were all directors and/or writers that director Luc Besson had worked with.
The first two trailers use the song "Because" by The Beatles. It was the very first time a film director could obtain the rights for using a Beatles song in a movie advertisement. Permission was granted by Paul McCartney.
There are 2,734 special effects shots in this movie, compared to only 188 in The Fifth Element (1997).
With a final production budget of EUR197.47 million, around $210 million in United States currency, the film was officially the most expensive ever made in France, significantly exceeding the budget of the previous record holder, Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008), which cost EUR102 million ($113 million). Twenty years earlier, director Luc Besson made The Fifth Element (1997), which was the most expensive French movie at the time, with a budget of EUR90 million ($100 million).
After suffering a record loss of $135 million in the previous year, EuropaCorp had set its hopes on Valerian to turn in a much-needed profit. However, after the commercial failure of the film and a subsequent drop in company stocks of over 40%, deputy CEO Edouard de Vesinne was forced to step down from his position.
Director Luc Besson waived his own salary in order to get the film made, which was a life-long passion project of his.
When Valerian is in Big Market and a wanted notice is released, the bounty hunter that follows Valerian is at a bar named "Korben's." Korben Dallas is the name of the character Bruce Willis played in director Luc Besson's The Fifth Element (1997).
The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières.
During the "Welcoming" scenes at the beginning of the movie, one alien race being greeted have a design similar to (but not identical to) the Mondoshawans from The Fifth Element (1997), which was also directed by Luc Besson.
Director Luc Besson chose not to shoot the movie in 3-D since 3-D cameras are too heavy for his style of filming, like running behind an actor or unusual angles of filming.
At one point, Igon Siruss tells Valerian, "I will find you, and I will kill you," to which Valerian whispers, "Good luck." This is nearly identical to the iconic exchange from Taken (2008), which was also written by director Luc Besson.
The futuristic New York City in director Luc Besson's previous film, The Fifth Element (1997), was visually inspired by "The Circles of Power," the fifteenth volume in the "Valérian and Laureline" comic series.
Director Luc Besson deliberately chose to shoot the film, which is an adaptation of a French comic, in English with English-speaking actors in order to raise its chances of a wider audience.
The film was released in 2017, the year of the "Valerian" comic's fiftieth anniversary.
The ship's computer, "Alex," reports on Alpha One details over the four hundred years since leaving Earth's orbit, in which it has traveled over 700 million miles. This puts it just past Jupiter at a speed of 200mph.
The main storyline is loosely based on "Ambassador of the Shadows," the sixth album in the comic book series. This was also the first Valerian story to be translated in English.
Director Luc Besson first premiered some footage of the film at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. The footage received a standing ovation from the crowd in Hall H.
The opening scene begins in 1975. This is the year "Ambassador of the Shadows" (on which the film is loosely based) was first published in French.
Rutger Hauer received top billing (credited as "and Rutger Hauer" in the opening credits), despite having less than one minute of screen time. Director Luc Besson asked him to be in the film as an homage to Blade Runner (1982) and its director, Ridley Scott, who is a friend of Besson.
The film opens with footage of the 1975 joint U.S./Soviet mission Apollo Soyuz Test Project. The mission ran from July 15, 1975 through July 24, 1975, forty-two years to the week of the opening of this film.
Before the Big Market mission, Lauriline tells the commanding operative, "Nice hat," which is a subtle nod to The Fifth Element (1997), which was also directed by Luc Besson, where the character Corbin Dallas tells a would-be mugger the same thing.
The Mül Converter creature in the movie functions the same way in the "Ambassador of Shadows" comic story, but it has no connection to the aliens Pearls of Mül. Laureline is given the creature so she and Valerian would be able to help the Earth representative with the negotiations, by producing the differing currencies used by the aliens.
The Pearls of Mül were an unidentified alien humanoid species in the original comic story "Ambassador of Shadows." Unlike the creatures in the movie, their skin color was red and black in the comic.
Laureline is the main narrator, as well as the character the story follows in "Ambassador of Shadows." She is the one who pilots the submarine to nab the mind-reading jellyfish, and she is the one who uses a shape-shifting alien to disguise herself to infiltrate the alien den. Valerian only shows up at the start and the end of the "Ambassador of Shadows" story, having been kidnapped along with the VIP.
Although director Luc Besson stated (in the Special Features of the the film's Blu-ray) that the "Big Market" sequence was written into (or added) to the "Ambassador of Shadows" story, the market can be considered taken from the "Empire of a Thousand Planets" story (where the movie's title is modified from). In the "Empire of a Thousand Planets" story, Laureline purchases an old Earth pocket watch, which sets in motion the rest of the strip's story.
Although most spaceships in most science fiction movies never display their make, the skyjet (pod) used by Valerian clearly showed the Lexus emblem on its front grill during the chase of the Pearls pod scene.
Weta Digital and ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) previously worked together on Contact (1997), Van Helsing (2004), Eragon (2006) and Avatar (2009), making Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) their fifth collaboration.
The movie featured "Alpha Station," the City of a Thousand Planets, but the station was called "Point Central" in the "Ambassador of Shadows" comic. Point Central was first created by non-human alien races (it did not start off as the ISS) and was added to, slowly over time. Additionally, the Federation in the movie was the point being negotiated in the comic story; Earth is governed by something called "the Galaxity" instead of an actual Federation of races.
Early in the Big Market mission, Laureline waves at the Kyrian alien guard in the tower with a Vulcan salute (from Star Trek) before shooting and stunning him.
Cara Delevingne worked out for several months to get in shape for her role as Laureline.
The word "mul" means "water" in Korean, and the Pearls of Mul are a semi-aquatic species.
In the middle of the big space battle, a fighter painted silver and yellow flies by the camera. The fighters Anakin Skywalker uses in episodes one and three of "Star Wars" is painted silver and yellow. The battle draws very much inspiration from the big space battle in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005).
After production was completed, Cara Delevingne auditioned for and became a frontrunner for the lead role in the "Lara Croft" film Tomb Raider (2018), but she lost out to Alicia Vikander.
At 1:46:08 Emperor Haban-Limai refers to 6 million lost in battle. This is also the quantity of Jewish victims of the Holocaust under Nazi rule in WWII.
When Laureline is fixing Valerian's arm, the tool she uses is a "Guppie" multi tool from Columbia River Knife and Tool (crkt).