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Chloé Zhao Pitched Marvel on ‘Eternals’ Using Images from Denis Villeneuve’s Movies

"You manage to build such visceral worlds I can feel and almost touch," Zhao told Villeneuve.

“Blade Runner 2049”

Warner Bros.

Chloé Zhao revealed in a discussion with Denis Villeneuve for Harper’s Bazaar (via /Film) that she brought along images from the “Blade Runner 2049” and “Sicario” director’s films when she went into her Marvel pitch meeting for “Eternals.” Zhao, who recently became the second woman to win the Oscar for Best Director thanks to “Nomadland,” is making her studio tentpole debut with the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe entry. Both “Eternals” and Villeneuve’s “Dune” are two of the biggest tentpoles of the fall movie season.

“I would like to apply for a job on your set to be your assistant,” Zhao told Villeneuve. “You know, when I went to pitch ‘Eternals,’ I had stills from your films as references. I’m naturally drawn to filmmakers who have a very strong hand in world building. When I watch your films, even though they’re of different genres, from ‘Sicario’ to ‘Arrival’ to ‘Prisoners’ and then ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ you managed to build such visceral worlds I can feel and almost touch.”

Ahead of Villeneuve’s “Dune” world premiering earlier this month at the Venice Film Festival, Zhao told Sight & Sound magazine that the director’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel was one of the reasons she was hopeful for cinema’s future. “Dune” stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, and more. The film is the first-part in a planned two-movie adaptation of Herbert’s book. Villeneuve said making the second “Dune” movie will depend on the first installment’s box office performance, which is anyone’s guess considering the movie will be available to stream on HBO Max the same day it opens in theaters.

“It gives me hope that a filmmaker like Denis is able to really harness his vision and put together something that’s so incredible, so cinematic,” Zhao told the magazine. “I’m just blown away by the experience I had in that room. But I’m terrified about how many people are or aren’t going to have that experience like I did, in a theatre, and what that means for the future.”

Warner Bros is behind “Dune” and will be released it in theaters and HBO Max starting October 22. Zhao’s “Eternals” will follow with a November 5 exclusive theatrical release from Disney.

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