The Fifth Element Sequel - Will It Ever Happen?

Released in 1997, "The Fifth Element" has everything that a sci-fi fan could want. The plot involves ancient aliens, universally important prophecies, and plenty of laser blasters. The setting oscillates between a cyberpunk dystopia and an interplanetary starship, with a quick stop to some Egyptian pyramids along the way. The heroes are lovable, the villains are hateable, and the visuals will make your eyes pop.

Almost more than any other one-off sci-fi adventure, "The Fifth Element" deserves a sequel. The movie's universe is just begging to be explored further, and given modern day effects and an even bigger budget, writer-director Luc Besson could create a spectacle that would be remembered for decades to come.

In the 20-odd years since "The Fifth Element" debuted, we've never exactly been close to getting a sequel, but some tantalizing details about Besson's potential follow-up have been dropped along the way. Until we're all sitting in theaters watching "The Fifth Element 2" fly across the big screen, we'll keep tracking the sequel's progress here.

Why isn't The Fifth Element sequel happening yet?

At first glance, it might seem like studios should have greenlit a sequel for "The Fifth Element" immediately after its release. The film earned nearly $264 million at the global box office, making it an incredible financial success internationally. A deeper look at the film, however, reveals that the picture of its financial success is actually a bit more complicated.

Creating "The Fifth Element" took a budget of $90 million. That's nothing to sneeze at by today's standards, but in the late '90s, Luc Besson's sci-fi adventure was the most expensive European film ever produced. Finding the funding to make the movie was a challenge, and getting enough cash for round two would have been even harder because while "The Fifth Element" was a high earner internationally, it didn't do so well in the United States. The film made just over $63 million in the U.S., which likely wasn't enough money for studios in the States to consider taking a risk on a sequel.

Even if the money had been there, Besson might not have been dying to get to work on a sequel. He and Bruce Willis had a tense relationship on set because their approaches to filmmaking were vastly different, with Besson moving at a much quicker speed. Besson told Screen Rant that the two of them eventually found a compromise that involved Willis only having to work four days a week, but he also had to sit right next to the director's chair, so he could be ready to go for every one of Besson's fast-paced shots.

What the creators have said about a Fifth Element sequel

Rumors about a "Fifth Element" sequel have swirled around for decades, and they aren't exactly unfounded. The world that's presented in Luc Besson's film is clearly so expansive and detailed that any number of other stories could take place in it. And in 2021, fans got some solid information about the sequel that never was.

Robert Mark Kamen helped Besson write the screenplay for "The Fifth Element," and in an interview with Uproxx, he revealed the faintest hints about the sequel he and Besson once planned. Putting together the original film involved weeks of Kamen and Besson going over all the ideas for the characters and the world, shaping them into something that movie audiences could follow. Naturally, plenty of Besson's original ideas had to be scrapped, and Kamen said, "The sequel would have been taking the other 180-page thing he had and working it into a script."

So the groundwork for a sequel was already in place way back in 1997. Besson essentially had an entire second movie ready to go. The complicated box office reception of "The Fifth Element" might have ruined the potential for a sequel, but is there any chance Besson will ever return to those 180 pages? It doesn't seem so. In a 2011 interview with Moviefone, the director said that as much as he loved working on the film, "If I do another sci-fi one day, which I would love, I will do a complete [sic] new thing." Fans can always cross their fingers that Besson changes his mind.

What could be explored in The Fifth Element 2?

What would an actual "Fifth Element" sequel even be about? That's one massive question that looms over the possibility of a part two ever getting off the ground. As much as fans loved Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich as Korben Dallas and Leeloo, the ending of the movie didn't leave the two of them with any unresolved plot threads. They basically got a happily ever after moment, and any sequel involving their characters would need to introduce an entirely new conflict for them to get involved with.

On the other hand, there's no reason that a "Fifth Element" sequel would have to limit itself to following characters from the original film. What's really made "The Fifth Element" become a lasting sci-fi icon is its setting. Korben's not-quite-cyberpunk homeworld is just as compelling as the spacefaring civilization that it's a part of. One of Luc Besson's strongest skills as a creator is worldbuilding, and he once told Nerdist that "The Fifth Element" began as a sprawling sci-fi novel. There's no doubt that Besson would be able to expand on the setting and find even more interesting places to explore in a sequel. This more or less lines up with a conversation the filmmaker had with the Daily Express, where he implied he might consider a spin-off one day.

Who would star in The Fifth Element sequel?

Thanks to the incredible worldbuilding in "The Fifth Element," a sequel could always wander into an unexplored corner of Luc Besson's futuristic universe. Thanks to the real-world circumstances surrounding the film today, a sequel might have to do that out of necessity.

Some of the biggest stars from "The Fifth Element" likely aren't going to be around for a sequel. Back in March 2022, Bruce Willis' family announced that he'd been diagnosed with aphasia, a neurological disorder that affects his ability to speak. Following that, Willis retired from acting, so he wouldn't be able to step back into Korben Dallas's shoes. More recently, Gary Oldman — who brought the antagonist of "The Fifth Element" to life in a truly terrifying way — made it clear that he's eyeing retirement as well. "I'm 65 next year, 70 is around the corner. I don't want to be active when I'm 80," he told The Sunday Times.

So the cast of the original movie might not be able to do a grand reunion, but another one of the film's leads has her own idea about the story. Milla Jovovich, who played Leeloo in the film, told Collider that she'd be interested to see a rebooted "Fifth Element" with a brand new actress taking a crack at her character. That's one avenue that could more easily open the door for a follow-up to the original story.

Fifth Element fans have another option

The road to a true "Fifth Element" sequel is far from straightforward, but fans might not actually have to walk it to get more of what they loved. "The Fifth Element" became a classic because of its quirky characters, unique world, and spectacular visuals. All of those ... elements ... are already present in a 2017 film from Luc Besson.

"Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets" is yet another sci-fi epic from Besson, this time based on a comic series from creators Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. The film follows Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), officers of the United Human Federation. The two of them work together to stop a plot that threatens a space station-turned-city called Alpha that's home to millions of people from over a thousand species.

"Valerian" has plenty of what fans loved about "The Fifth Element." Unfortunately, it also had that earlier film's struggles at the box office. While it earned upwards of $255 million, the film also took over $177 million to get made in the first place. It also wasn't particularly well-reviewed, but maybe given enough time, it will come to be seen as a classic just like "The Fifth Element." At the very least, it can give hardcore fans of the 1997 film more of what they loved.