plex | Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen Explained Why A Sequel To The Fifth Element Wasn’t Made

Director Luc Besson and a flying taxi on the set of The Fifth Element (1997). Image: onset.shotonwhat.com

You have a Multi Pass in the world of PAPER HEROES. Director, writer and producer Luc Besson (The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional) began writing the story that would become the film The Fifth Element (1997) at the age of 16. The main character was named Zaltman Bléros, a rocket factory worker in the future, and was later recast as taxi driver Korben Dallas, played by Bruce Willis (Mel Gibson turned down the role).

Writer and producer Robert Mark Kamen wrote The Karate Kid (The Karate Kid, 1984), drawing on his experiences when he was 17 years old and began studying martial arts to defend himself after being attacked by a gang of thugs at the New York World’s Fair. 1964. His first sensei was a violent Marine captain and he later became a student of a sensei named Chojun Miyagi. He wrote The Karate Kid Part II (The Karate Kid Part II, 1986) and The Karate Kid Part III (The Karate Kid Part III, 1989). He receives “Characters created by” credit on projects in the franchise, including the Cobra Kai television series.

In an interview published by Uproxx (https://uproxx.com/movies/karate-kid-writer-robert-mark-kamen/), Kamen recalled meeting Besson, with whom he has collaborated on The Transporter and Taken franchises, his work on the script for The Fifth Element, and explained why a sequel wasn’t made.

What was it like getting involved with that?

At the time I was working for Warner Brothers as their script killer. He would be the doctor of the scripts that were being put into production. Bill Gerber, producer from Gran Torino, who was the executive vice president or whatever he was at Warners, 1993, called me. He told me, “We have this script. We can’t make heads or tails, but we think this guy is a visionary.” He sent me the script and it didn’t make sense. But I saw La Femme Nikita and I saw a cinematic genius.

And I said, “I’ll go in and meet him.” He said, “Great.” So I go in, meet the guy and tell him everything that’s wrong with his script. He doesn’t understand everything because his English wasn’t that good. And he sits there and I could see that he was getting more and more angry. He’s a French author, I’m just this fucking Hollywood screenwriter. And at the end of the meeting, Billy called me up and said, “Dude, you just ruined that relationship.” Because all he had done was keep saying how huge this script was.

A week later, my phone rings and it’s Luc. And he said, “I thought about what you said, and will you work with me on the script?” And I said, “My God, yes, of course. It would be an honor to work with you.” And he said, “Okay. Come to Paris.” I said, “When?” He said, “What are you going to do tomorrow?” I should have known right then and there what I was getting into because the guy wasn’t going to say no. I went to Paris and I was supposed to stay for three days. I stayed three weeks. He drives me straight from the airport on a Sunday to this unheated studio. It used to be an old foundry and it was very cold. And open the back of this warehouse, and there’s everything for The Fifth Element: the costume, the creature, everything. But it doesn’t have a coherent story. So we sat down and worked for three weeks, and after three weeks we had a cohesive story. Then it took him another four years to make the film because he had to raise $90 million.

I read that his original draft of The Fifth Element was 300 pages or something, and it was like a novel.

It was actually 180 pages, and then he added a second part to it, which didn’t make sense either. We were going to do it as a sequel, but it didn’t make sense, and The Fifth Element wasn’t big enough here. [Estados Unidos]. It was huge in the rest of the world, and it’s a classic, but it only made $75 million here or $80 million. She was way ahead of her time. So we never did the sequel, and the sequel would have been to take the other 180-page thing I had and turn it into a script. He and I worked for a long time, since then we have made 15 or 16 films together.

He used to say, “I don’t see that. I don’t see that.” And at first I don’t know what the hell he was talking about. He didn’t see it because it’s a camera with legs. He is a visualist. Once I understood that, it was easier to work with him. He is a genius. And Leeloo, he invented a whole language, and he and Milla [Jovovich] They used to speak the language with each other! He was bizarre. And then he married her. He then he left and married her.

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Poster for The Fifth Element (1997). Image: Comic Watch

Preview of The Fifth Element (1997).

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plex | Screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen Explained Why A Sequel To The Fifth Element Wasn’t Made


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