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‘Eternals’ director says reshoots are a ‘blessing’

Eternals' Chloé Zhao says people often have the wrong idea about reshoots, saying they give directors the freedom to take risks.

Image via Marvel

Eternals arrived to a bunch of bad reviews but didn’t flop, ending up grossing a respectable $400 million at the pandemic-era box office.

It may be much more thoughtful, slower-paced, and philosophical than crowd-pleasers like Avengers: Endgame or Spider-Man: No Way Home, but that’s exactly what Marvel Studios promised. The movie fared a lot better with fans than it did critics, and it’s being appraised even further since being added to the Disney Plus library, with the running time more tolerable when you can watch it at your own pace.

The streaming release also features an audio commentary track featuring director Chloé Zhao, along with visual effects coordinators Stephane Cerreti and Mårten Larsson. There’s a very interesting exchange between Zhao and Cerreti about reshoots, which are sometimes seen as studio meddling, but are defended by Zhao as a way to take risks.

“I realized that there’s a stigma attached to additional photography. You know, for me, additional photography, if you can afford to do it, it’s a blessing. You know, it’s a tool to use. You know, it’s not something that [you] say, ‘Oh, I didn’t get it right the first time.’ The more you want to challenge yourself on your first way out, you know, like your first time around, the more likely you’re going to have mistakes. Things that you didn’t get. And so, being able to catch these moments, also, like CG, some of the moments to be able to, you know, connect the fights was crucial to get this done.”

Cerreti agreed, saying it’s almost impossible to get all the pre-VFX elements right first time – especially in a movie like Eternals:

“I mean, you can’t get everything right from the get-go. And you need to sometimes go back to the editing room and figure out what’s working and what’s not. And then just make a plan on how to get the elements that you need to finish it, you know. It’s part of our process. It’s just the way it is. And I think it’s a luxury and it’s something that’s really great because, you know, it makes our films better. If you were just stuck with what we had, sometimes we’d be really troubled.”

There’s currently no word on a full-on Eternals sequel, though the characters are inevitably going to appear in other MCU projects. Harry Styles’ Eros is clearly going places, and the introduction of the Celestials will go on to have serious implications for the cosmic side of the universe.

Beyond that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the more popular Eternals popping up from time to time, with Kumail Nanjiani hinting that Kingo has a lot of MCU connections. There’s also some evidence that Richard Madden’s Ikaris might have survived his trip to the sun, but I’m waiting for something more concrete than a Tiktok video to get excited.

Eternals is now streaming on Disney Plus.

David James
About the author

David James

London-based writer of anything and everything. Willing to crawl over rusty nails to write about 'Metal Gear Solid' or 'Resident Evil.'