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Chloe Zhao was originally in the running to direct ‘Black Widow’ before landing ‘Eternals’

Aptopix 93rd Academy Awards Press Room
Director/Producer Chloe Zhao, winner of the award for best picture for “Nomadland,” poses in the press room at the Oscars on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, Pool)

Chloe Zhao was originally considered to direct “Black Widow” before she landed the job for “Eternals.”

In an interview with Variety, Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige revealed the Nomadland filmmaker, who became the second female to win the Best Director Oscar on Sunday, first came onto their radar for Black Widow, starring Scarlett Johansson, but she took herself out of the running and came back to pitch Eternals.

“Brad Winderbaum, who is a producer on Black Widow, either had an initial meeting with her and then she was going to come back in and do a pitch meeting – but she took herself out of it. She didn’t have the time, or she wasn’t ready yet, or maybe she was gone off to shoot or prep Nomadland – I don’t remember exactly,” he explained, adding that she is a big fan of the Marvel films and comics.

“And then later, (executive producer) Nate Moore was beginning to put his list together for filmmakers on Eternals, and she was been on the list for that reason: because we knew she was in our world. The two of them started working on something that they then brought to me, and it was an absolute spectacular pitch that Chloé put together. A presentation that Chloé put together about a very bold and very ambitious sprawling 7000-year story of humanity and our place in the cosmos.”

Eternals, starring Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Gemma Chan, is currently in the post-production phase ahead of a November release, while Black Widow, directed by Cate Shortland, is being released in July.

Zhao has a distinctive visual style, and Feige explained she brought that to Eternals and pushed for as much as possible to be filmed on location rather than in front of a green screen.

“We cut a little sample reel together… And it was so beautiful, and I had to keep saying, ‘This is right out of a camera; there’s no VFX work to this at all!’ Because it was a beautiful sunset, with perfect waves and mist coming up from the shore on this giant cliffside – really, really impressive stuff,” he recalled, before admitting that when he saw Nomadland he realized it was her “signature style” rather than something new for Eternals.

– Cover Media