Eternals Director Chloe Zhao Pitched Marvel Using Stills From Denis Villeneuve Movies

Chloé Zhao and Denis Villeneuve have a mutual admiration society going. Zhao has already praised Villeneuve's "Dune," saying she was "blown away" by it and "terrified" by the possibility that people wouldn't be seeing it in theaters, the way the filmmakers meant for it to be experienced before Covid. Villeneuve is also now saying he's Zhao's "biggest fan."

The two directors have a new interview out in Harper's Bazaar, which is framed as a conversation between them about what's next for cinema in the pandemic and streaming age. Both of them have big movie releases coming up in the near future. Villeneuve's "Dune" hits theaters and HBO Max on October 22, while Zhao's "Eternals" is exclusive to theaters, starting November 5.

This means the two movies will be overlapping in their theatrical run. The question is, how full will the theaters where they're playing be?

"Eternals," of course, isn't just the latest feature from Zhao, who became the first Asian woman to win the Oscar for Best Director this year, thanks to her work in "Nomadland." It's also the latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It will flesh out a new cosmic corner of the MCU and therefore involve a fair bit of world-building.

"A Very Strong Hand in World Building"

In the interview, Zhao explains that she looked to Villeneuve's films as a good world-building model. She cites most of the films he's made since transitioning from French-language features into English. "Prisoners," "Sicario," "Arrival," and "Blade Runner 2049" all get mentioned.

Here's what she had to say to Villeneuve, after he professed to being her biggest fan:

"I would like to apply for a job on your set to be your assistant. 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."

If you want to pitch your movie, you can't go wrong with a few Denis Villeneuve stills. The monolithic, oval-like spaceship in "Arrival," hovering over a terrestrial landscape, for instance, seems like it would be a good reference for a movie such as "Eternals," where you've got cosmic beings protecting Earth. 

"Dune" has its release on October 22, 2021. "Eternals" follows shortly thereafter on November 5.