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Eternals director Chloé Zhao has described how Dune director Denis Villeneuve supported her during the production of her MCU movie. Directed by the Oscar-winning director Zhao, and with an all-star cast including Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Richard Madden, the latest MCU movie follows the eponymous Eternals, an immortal alien race, who resurface after thousands of years to protect Earth from the Deviants. Though ostensibly moving in a new and fresh direction for the MCU post-Thanos, Eternals reviews have been mixed.

Eternals, of course, is not the only blockbuster to have its release date rearranged over the last 18 months. While No Time To Die suffered from the most erratic release and promotional schedule, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune also saw its release dates and release formats altered significantly from its original plan. While the changes to release schedules seem to have had a smaller than expected impact on the box office takes of delayed movies, the delays did positively impact the time that filmmakers had to work on their films. In some cases, it allowed filmmakers to help and support each other.

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Speaking with THR, Zhao described how Villeneuve supported her during her work on Eternals, particularly in relation to the film’s application to IMAX. Zhao describes the Canadian filmmaker as “generous” in letting her view Dune and in providing her references for IMAX. The Chinese-born filmmaker also described how, while she and Villeneuve were “pushed and shifted” due to the pandemic, she found “strength” in being able to go through the process with a colleague like Villeneuve. Read the full quote below.

“I gotta say that I’m a big fan of Denis; he’s a friend. We got pushed and shifted because of the pandemic. We got pulled apart and now we’re back together again at the same time. Even when I was working on IMAX for Eternals, I asked him if it was okay for me to watch Dune. I knew he did incredible things in IMAX, so I knew I could learn from him.

He was so generous; he was like, “Yes.” He also gave me other references to look at. So I actually find a lot of strength in our films coming out at the same time and to have a colleague who I respect and love and to be able to go through this together and to hug each other at Venice [International Film Festival] when Dune came out. He even sent me a message last night, so it all feels very empowering.”

While filming was ready to wrap on Dune just as Eternals was gearing up to start shooting, the setbacks in release schedules led to the two blockbusters hitting cinemas weeks apart. The delays allowed Zhao to seek Villeneuve’s support and experience working on Dune’s IMAX sequences when working on Eternals‘ use of IMAX. Far from an adversarial relationship between two directors whose films are competing against each other at the box office, Zhao and Villeneuve demonstrated a collegiate and supportive working relationship. Indeed, Zhao was full of praise for Villeneuve’s work on Dune after he accepted her request to view the movie.

Following in the footsteps of Christopher Nolan and his Dark Knight Trilogy, Zhao and Villeneuve are examples of ‘auteur’ independent directors taking on big-budget blockbusters. Zhao, for example, is releasing the $200 million-budgeted Eternals on the back of picking up Oscars for her $5 million-budgeted Nomadland. Villeneuve’s support of Zhao during Eternals shows a willingness between some of cinema’s top creative forces to bring their unique independent styles to mammoth blockbusters. Marvel seems to support this move of letting directors show their unique style too, as Zhao commended Marvel’s decision to allow her complete creative freedom on Eternalsshooting with the same camera and rigs she did on Nomadland. Marvel, however, seems to have held back slightly, with much of the criticism of Eternals focusing on its adherence to the MCU story formula or template. Regardless, if award-winning and respected directors continue to support each other in their blockbuster endeavors, this can only bode well for future movies.,50785905.html

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