Denis Villeneuve Showed Chloé Zhao Early ‘Dune’ Cut to Help Her Get ‘Eternals’ Ready for IMAX

Chloé Zhao and Denis Villeneuve make for one filmmaking friendship that keeps on giving. Zhao was one of the first notable filmmakers to share a rave review about Villeneuve’s “Dune,” and she later revealed that her pitch to Marvel for “Eternals” included several Villeneuve movies as reference points. Now, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the “Nomadland” Oscar winner revealed that Villeneuve gave her permission to screen an early cut of “Dune” in IMAX so that she could learn how to tailor her Marvel tentpole for the large format presentation.

“I gotta say that I’m a big fan of Denis; he’s a friend,” Zhao said. “[‘Eternals’ and ‘Dune’] got pushed and shifted because of the pandemic. We got pulled apart and then 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.”

Zhao continued, “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.”

Villeneuve and Zhao previously joined forces for a Harper’s Bazaar discussion, which is where Zhao revealed that films like “Blade Runner 2049” factored into her “Eternals” pitch. As Zhao told Villeneuve at the time, “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.”

Both “Dune” and “Eternals” are now playing in theaters nationwide.

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